The effect of organic carbon on fixed nitrogen loss in the eastern tropical South Pacific and Arabian Sea oxygen deficient zones

Bonnie X. Chang, Jeremy R. Rich, Amal Jayakumar, Hema Naik, Anil K. Pratihary, Richard G. Keil, Bess B. Ward and Allan H. Devol

Limnol. Oceanogr., 59(4), 2014, 1267-1274 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2014.59.4.1267

ABSTRACT: The three major oxygen deficient zones (ODZs) of the world oceans (eastern tropical North and South Pacific (ETNP and ETSP, respectively), and Arabian Sea (AS) host the vast majority of pelagic fixed nitrogen (N) loss and up to half of total marine N loss. The input of organic matter is an important control on the absolute and relative importance of the two main pathways of N removal (denitrification and anammox). We investigated the response of N loss in the ETSP and AS ODZs to additions of organic matter in the form of glucose and naturally derived dissolved and particulate organic matter (DOM and POM, respectively). In the ETSP ODZ, the addition of glucose stimulated denitrification (1.6-fold increase after 5 d) but not anammox (14-fold decrease after 5 d). In the AS ODZ, only POM, not DOM, significantly increased rates of denitrification at the base of the oxycline (5.4–6.4-fold increase after 2 d), but not at the secondary nitrite maximum. These results suggest that denitrification was generally limited by organic matter supply at the time of this study in both the ETSP and AS ODZs, although the lability of the organic matter supplied was important. Interestingly, 15N2 produced in ETSP and AS incubations was not binomially distributed relative to the reactants after the influence of anammox was taken into account, suggesting an unknown production mechanism or pathway of N removal.

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