, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 177-187

Diel biogeochemical cycling in a hyperventilating shallow estuarine environment

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Abstract

A diel biogeochemical study was performed to assess the influence that periods of elevated biological activity have on the biogeochemical cycling of macronutrients and redox-sensitive elements in a natural estuarine environment. High-resolution data (15 min sampling) illustrates periodic extreme variations in dissolved oxygen (DO) in the shallow waters of Azevedo Pond, Elkhom Slough, California. During periods of low tidal flushing, DO values can range from highly oxic (>560 μM O2: >250% saturation) during sunny days to suboxic conditions (<5 μM) at night. Nutrient cycling and redox-sensitive trace element biogeochemistry were evaluated in response to the extreme daily DO fluctuations. A diel sampling study was conducted over a 26-h period, where O2 concentrations ranged from 346 μM to sustained non-detectable levels in the night hours. In concert with the DO fluctuations, diel phosphate cycling was on the order of 4 μM in response to tidal flushing events and biological assimilation and regeneration. The IO3 /I redox couple quickly responded to suboxic conditions in the water column by a marked increase in I concentrations and corresponding depletion of IO3 . The extreme fluctuations of the p∈ in the water column resulted in diel dissolved Mn2+ variations of nearly 5 μM, with observed dissolved Mn removal rates on the order of 1 μM h−1. The elevated biogeochemical cycling of oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, iodine, manganese, and iron found in this shallow estuarine environment suggest that tidal restrictions and anthropogenic nutrient enrichments can amplify diel variations and potentially hinder the functional and ecological stability of these systems. These data suggest that accurate chemical monitoring of the health of an estuarine ecosystem must account for the diel variability inherent in these highly productive environments.