Effect of CO2, nutrients and light on coastal plankton. II. Metabolic rates

We conducted a microcosm experiment aimed at studying the interactive effects of high CO2, nutrient loading and irradiance on the metabolism of a planktonic community sampled in the Western Mediterranean near the coast of Málaga. Changes in the metabolism of phytoplankton and bacterioplankton were observed for 7 d under 8 treatment conditions, representing the full factorial combinations of 2 levels each of CO2, nutrient concentration and solar radiation exposure. The initial plankton sample was collected at the surface from a stratified water column, indicating that phytoplankton were naturally acclimated to high irradiance and low nutrient concentrations. Nutrient addition combined with high irradiance resulted in a significant increase in primary production. Nitrate uptake by phytoplankton was also stimulated under high nutrient conditions. High nutrients, high irradiance and the combination of low CO2 and high irradiance positively affected bacterial production. Light was the main factor affecting the respiration rates of the community, which were higher at the high light level. After 7 d of incubation, nutrient loading was the only factor that significantly affected the amount of particulate organic carbon (POC) accumulated in the microcosms. Therefore, the changes in metabolic rates produced at high CO2 had no effect on net production of particulate organic matter. If these results are extrapolated to the natural environment, it could be hypothesized that high levels of CO2 will have a limited impact on biological pump activity in the northern Alboran Sea since it is assumed that POC export towards deeper layers determines the potential for carbon sequestration.

Mercado J. M., Sobrino C., Neale P. J., Segovia M., Reul A., Amorim A. L., Carrillo P., Claquin P., Cabrerizo M. J., León P., Lorenzo M. R., Medina-Sánchez J. M., Montecino V., Napoleon C., Prasil O., Putzeys S., Salles S. & Yebra L., 2014. Effect of CO2, nutrients and light on coastal plankton. II. Metabolic rates. Aquatic Biology 22:43-57. Article.

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