Original Article

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 92-101

First online:

Structural changes in the benthic diatom community along a eutrophication gradient on a tidal flat

  • M. AgatzAffiliated withWadden Sea Station Sylt, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Hafenstrasse 43, D-25992 List, Germany e-mail: rasmus@awi-bremerhaven.de
  • , R. M. AsmusAffiliated withWadden Sea Station Sylt, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Hafenstrasse 43, D-25992 List, Germany e-mail: rasmus@awi-bremerhaven.de
  • , B. DeventerAffiliated withFachhochschule Bingen, Department of Environmental Protection, Berlinstrasse 109, D-55411 Bingen, Germany

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Abstract

In the mud- and sandflat region of the outer Königshafen off List on Sylt, the effects of the outflow from a sewage treatment plant on the benthic diatom flora were investigated. The spectrum of shapes, biomass, and diversity was determined in relation to the concentrations of phosphate, silicate, and nitrogen compounds in the overlying and pore water. The biomass increased with the available quantities of nutrients, while the diversity reached a maximum at the intermediate concentrations. Every different set of nutrient concentrations is characterized by a different diatom community. Slight inputs of nutrients led to changes in the relative abundances of forms typical of the habitat. Moderate concentrations permitted the species that are normally present in winter to occur in summer as well. In the strongly eutrophic region, nutrient-loving species that are not locally present under normal conditions formed nearly monospecific populations. A relatively constant input of nutrients almost eliminated the seasonal variations. Navicula gregaria, Nitzschia sigma, and Nitzschia tryblionella proved to be tolerant of pollution, while the genera Achnanthes and Amphora were typical in the nutrient-poor regions. The nutrient budget, particularly that of the nitrogen compounds, was found to be predominant among the physical and chemical factors.

Key words Benthic diatom community Structural changes Nutrient concenration Eutrophication gradient