, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 378–388 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal patterns in sediment and water column nutrients in a eutrophic Southern California estuary



Quarterly field sampling was conducted to characterize variations in water column and sediment nutrients in a eutrophic southern California estuary with a history of frequent macroalgal blooms. Water column and sediment nutrient measures demonstrated that Upper Newport Bay (UNB) is a highly enriched estuary. High nitrate (NO3 ) loads from the river entered the estuary at all sampling times with a rainy season (winter) maximum estimated at 2,419 mol h−1. This resulted in water NO3 concentration in the estuary near the river mouth at least one order of magnitude above all other sampling locations during every seasons; maximum mean water NO3 concentration was 800 μM during springer 1997. Phosphorus (P)-loading was high year round (5.7–90.4 mol h−1) with no seasonal pattern. Sediment nitrogen (N)-content showed a seasonal pattern with a spring maximum declining through fall. sediment and water nutrients, as well as percent cover of three dominant macroalgae, varied between the main channel and tidal creeks. During all seasons, water column NO3 concentrations were higher in the main channel than in tidal creeks while tidal creeks had higher levels of sediment total Kjeldhal nitrogen (TKN) and P. During each of the four sampling periods, percent cover ofEntermorpha intestinalis andCeramium spp. was higher in tidal creeks than in the main channel, while percent cover ofUlva expansa was always higher in the main channel. Decreases in sediment N in both creek and channel habitats were concurrent with increases in macroalgal cover, possibly reflecting use of stored sediment TKN by macroalgae. Our data suggest a shift in primary nutrient sources for macroalgae in UNB from riverine input during winter and spring to recycling from sediments duirng summer and fall.


Macroalgae Main Channel Total Phosphorous Tidal Creek Marine Ecology Progress Series 
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© Estuarine Research Federation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and EvolutionUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles

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