A comparative study of responses in plankton food web structure and function in contrasting European coastal waters exposed to experimental nutrient addition

Olsen, Y., S. Agustí, T. Andersen, C. M. Duarte, J. M. Gasol, I. Gismervik, A. -S. Heiskanen, E. Hoell, P. Kuuppo, R. Lignell, H. Reinertsen, U. Sommer, H. Stibor, T. Tamminen, O. Vadstein, D. Vaqué, M. Vidal

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(1_part_2), 2006, 488-503 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.1_part_2.0488

ABSTRACT: We quantify, compare, and generalize responses of experimental nutrient loadings (LN) on planktonic community structure and function in coastal waters. Data were derived from three mesocosm experiments undertaken in Baltic (BAL), Mediterranean (MED), and Norwegian (NOR) coastal waters. A planktonic model with seven functional compartments and 30-32 different carbon flows fit to all three experiments was used as a framework for flow-rate estimation and comparison. Flows were estimated on the basis of time series of measured biomass, some measured flows, and inverse modeling. Biomass and gross uptake rate of carbon of most groups increased linearly with increasing LN in the nutrient input range of 0-1 µmol N L-1 d-1 at all locations. The fate of the gross primary production (GPP) was similar in all systems. Autotrophic biomass varied by two orders of magnitude among locations, with the lowest biomass and response to nutrient addition in MED waters. The variation of GPP among sites was less than one order of magnitude. Mesozooplankton dominated by doliolids (Tunicata), but not those dominated by copepods, presumably exerted efficient control of the autotrophic biomass, thereby buffering responses of autotrophs to high nutrient input. Among the many factors that can modify the responses of autotrophs to nutrients, the time scale over which the enrichment is made and the precise mode of nutrient enrichment are important. We suggest a general concept that may contribute to a scientific basis for understanding and managing coastal eutrophication.

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