Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3054
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3054
22 Jan 2024
 | 22 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Riverine inputs and phytoplankton community composition control nitrate cycling in a coastal lagoon

Mindaugas Žilius, Rūta Barisevičiūtė, Stefano Bonaglia, Isabell Klawonn, Elise Lorre, Tobia Politi, Irma Vybernaite-Lubiene, Maren Voss, and Paul Bukaveckas

Abstract. Estuarine systems, being situated at the interface between land and marine environments, are important sites for nitrate (NO3) retention and processing due to large inputs, long retention time, and high biogeochemical activity. However, it remains uncertain how pelagic and benthic processes control NO3 cycling and how these differ between contrasting seasons. In this study, we measured pelagic and benthic assimilatory and dissimilatory NO3 processes in a large lagoon (Curonian Lagoon, SE Baltic Sea) to understand changes in NO3 cycling in relation to variation in riverine inputs and shifts in phytoplankton community composition. We show that in spring, benthic dissimilatory and assimilatory NO3 processes were important, while in summer, pelagic assimilatory processes dominated. During spring, diatom blooms promote greater delivery of nitrogen (N) and labile organic matter to the benthos resulting in greater denitrification in the sediments and a net flux of NO3 from the water column to the sediments. In summer, phytoplankton blooms dominated by buoyant cyanobacteria exhibited high rates of assimilatory uptake and greater particulate organic N export to the sea, but low rates of sediment–water exchange. Cyanobacteria blooms were associated with higher absolute rates of NO3 uptake, as well as higher mass-specific rates compared to spring. Given the low dissolved inorganic N in summer, high uptake indicates that the pelagic community possessed a nutritional strategy to efficiently utilize multiple N forms. Overall, our findings show that the seasonal succession from diatom to cyanobacteria-dominated communities is associated with a shift from strong benthic-pelagic coupling to predominantly pelagic-based N cycling.

Mindaugas Žilius, Rūta Barisevičiūtė, Stefano Bonaglia, Isabell Klawonn, Elise Lorre, Tobia Politi, Irma Vybernaite-Lubiene, Maren Voss, and Paul Bukaveckas

Status: open (until 17 Mar 2024)

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Mindaugas Žilius, Rūta Barisevičiūtė, Stefano Bonaglia, Isabell Klawonn, Elise Lorre, Tobia Politi, Irma Vybernaite-Lubiene, Maren Voss, and Paul Bukaveckas
Mindaugas Žilius, Rūta Barisevičiūtė, Stefano Bonaglia, Isabell Klawonn, Elise Lorre, Tobia Politi, Irma Vybernaite-Lubiene, Maren Voss, and Paul Bukaveckas

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Short summary
This study analyzes the mechanisms driving nitrate retention and elimination within a large estuarine system. Simultaneous measurements of pelagic and benthic processes provide insight into how nitrates are transformed. Finally, our findings are consistent with the paradigm that eutrophication favors a shift from benthic to pelagic-dominated processes.