An understanding of the dynamic relationship between nitrogen supply and the formation of phytoplankton biomass is important in predicting and avoiding marine eutrophication. This relationship can be expressed as the short-term yield q of chlorophyll from dissolved available inorganic nitrogen (DAIN), the sum of nitrate, nitrite and ammonium. This paper communicates the results of a continuous culture nitrate enrichment experiment undertaken to investigate the cumulative yield of chlorophyll from DAIN (q). The purposes of the study were: to acquire a better understanding of the relationship between chlorophyll formation and DAIN; to obtain values that could be used in models for predicting eutrophication. The results of a time series experiment carried out using microplankton (all organisms <200 mum in size) indicate that the parameter q does not have a single value but is affected by the ecophysiological response of phytoplankton to changing nutrient status after an enrichment event. It is also dependent on changes in the allocation of nitrogen between autotrophs and heterotrophs. The value of yield obtained at the height of the bloom can be represented by q (max) (2.35 mug chl (mumol N)(-1)). The post-bloom, steady state value of q can be represented by q(eq) (0.95 mug chl (mumol N)(-1)). The microcosm steady state yield was not significantly different from the median value obtained from synoptic studies of Scottish west coast waters. It is proposed that q(eq) is the most appropriate value for assessing the general potential for eutrophication resulting from continuous nutrient enrichment into coastal waters. It is further proposed that q (max) be used for cases of sporadic enrichment and where a short burst of unrestricted growth may be detrimental. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- NUTRIENT LIMITATION