Marine Biology

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 323-337

Bacterial production in North Sea sediments: clues to seasonal and spatial variations

  • F. C. van DuylAffiliated withNetherlands Institute for Sea Research
  • , A. J. KopAffiliated withNetherlands Institute for Sea Research

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Benthic bacterial production and biomass were measured at 16 stations in the North Sea covering a wide range of sediment types from the Southern Bight and the English coast to the Skagerrak. Stations were sampled in August 1991 and February 1992. The best predictor for summer/winter and spatial variations in benthic bacterial production in North Sea sediments was temperature. In winter the ranges in temperature were too small to account for the spatial variations in benthic bacterial production. The direct effect of temperature alone on bacterial production could not explain the variations. The apparent Q10-values derived from the relations between bacterial growth and temperature exceeded the range in Q10-values generally accepted for bacterial growth (between 2 and 3). Temperature was assumed to covary closely with substrate availability for bacteria. Due to its significant seasonality phytopigment content of the sediment (chlorophyll a and pheopigment) was found to be a better indicator of substrate availability than sediment organic matter, which did not demonstrate seasonality. Temperature and phytopigment accounted for up to 88% of the seasonal and spatial variations in bacterial production. The significant relations between bacterial production and biomass in summer coinciding with significant relations between bacterial biomass and phytopigments suggest that variations in phytopigments in the sediment may be indicators of the variability of labile components regulating bacterial production in sediments.