Marine Biology

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp 281–289 | Cite as

Phosphate uptake by intertidal algae in relation to zonation and season

  • C. L. Hurd
  • M. J. Dring


The removal of phosphate from ambient seawater by whole plants of five species of fucoid algae, collected from the east coast of N. Ireland in 1988 and 1989, was followed over 6-h periods. A transient uptake pattern was observed forPelvetia canaliculata (L.) Dcne. et Thuret,Fucus spiralis L.,F. vesiculosus L. andF. serratus L., consisting of an initial period of high uptake, followed by a phase of zero uptake and then a period at an intermediate rate.Ascophyllum nodosum (L.) Le Jolis had a constant slow rate of uptake over 6 h. The initial uptake rate ofF. spiralis was significantly greater than that of any other species. Phosphate uptake over a 2-h period was measured at concentrations ranging from that of ambient seawater to 25µg-at. l−1 for whole plants ofF. spiralis andF. serratus, using a large scale batch method. A small scale batch method was used for whole plants ofP. canaliculata and sections of the other four species investigated. Uptake abilities of the algae at low concentrations of phosphate were compared using the parameterV1 (the uptake rate at 1µg-at. l−1) and at high concentrations usingVmax, the maximum uptake rate. These kinetic parameters of uptake were calculated using a method that avoids bias and permits statistical evaluation of the results. The fucoid algae studied could be divided into two distinct groups on the basis of their abilities to take up phosphate from seawater.P. canaliculata andA. nodosum had low values ofV1 in winter, which were also correlated with their positions on the shore and did not vary between winter and summer. TheFucus species had higher values ofV1 in winter, which were also correlated with their positions on the shore. In summer, however,V1-values for these species decreased and no longer correlated with their shore heights. TheVmax-value forF. spiralis was higher in winter than in summer but was signifcantly greater than that of any other species at all times of year. The ecological significance ofVmax is discussed in relation to nutrient limitation and the possible occurrence of patches of high nutrient concentration in the intertidal environment.


Uptake Rate Nutrient Limitation Phosphate Uptake Uptake Pattern High Nutrient Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. L. Hurd
    • 1
  • M. J. Dring
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, School of Biology and BiochemistryThe Queen's UniversityBelfastNorthern Ireland

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