Estuarine Nutrient Cycling: The Influence of Primary Producers

Volume 2 of the series Aquatic Ecology Book Series pp 263-280


  • Nils Risgaard-PetersenAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Ecology, National Environmental Research Institute

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As nitrogen passes through the estuarine environment it undergoes a complex series of transformations. Inorganic N is incorporated into pelagic primary producers, and a large fraction reaches the seafloor either through sedimentation of algal cells or via grazing followed by deposition of faecal pellets and dead organisms. At the seafloor the organic bound nitrogen is either buried permanently or undergoes decomposition resulting in release of NH4+ or urea. Alternatively, inorganic N is taken up directly by the sediment system and incorporated into benthic primary producers or used as substrate in microbial metabolic processes.