Bioavailable phosphorus in humic headwater streams in boreal Sweden

Mats Jansson, Martin Berggren, Hjalmar Laudon and Anders Jonsson

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(4), 2012, 1161-1170 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.4.1161

ABSTRACT: Bioavailable phosphorus (BAP) concentrations were determined nine times between April and October 2010 in two humic boreal headwater streams draining forest- and mire-dominated catchments. BAP was analyzed in a bioassay in which natural P-limited bacterioplankton grew with natural P as the sole P source. In both streams, approximately 90% of the BAP occurred as dissolved species (passing a 0.2-µm filter), consisting partly of low-molecular-weight forms (passing a filter with nominal cutoff at 1 kDa) and partly of high-molecular-weight forms (passing a 0.2-µm filter but not a 1-kDa filter). Concentrations of total dissolved BAP varied between 1 µg L-1 and 14 µg L-1, with the highest values in the middle of the summer. Compared to the forest stream, BAP concentrations were generally higher in the mire stream, where it occasionally amounted to nearly 50% of total P. Molybdate reactive phosphorus overestimated BAP considerably. Most of the BAP was in forms other than free orthophosphate. Temporal BAP variations showed no relationships with dissolved organic carbon (C) or iron but were positively related to air temperature and negatively related to the absorbance ratio (a254 : a365) of organic compounds in the water, indicating connections between terrestrial export of BAP and temperature-dependent terrestrial C metabolism. Concentrations of BAP can relieve stream bacteria from P limitation, and a significant share of BAP exported to streams can reach and be used in downstream lakes.

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