Records of bulk organic matter and plant pigments in sediment of the “red-tide zone” adjacent to the Changjiang River estuary
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Cultural eutrophication caused by nutrient over-enrichment in coastal waters will lead to a cascading set of ecosystem changes and deleterious ecological consequences, such as harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia. During the past two decades since the late 1990s, recurrent large-scale HABs (red tides) and an extensive hypoxic zone have been reported in the coastal waters adjacent to the Changjiang River estuary. To retrieve the history of eutrophication and its associated ecosystem changes, a sediment core was collected from the “red-tide zone” adjacent to the Changjiang River estuary. The core was dated using the 210Pb radioisotope and examined for multiple proxies, including organic carbon (OC), total nitrogen (TN), stable isotopes of C and N, and plant pigments. An apparent up-core increase of OC content was observed after the 1970s, accompanied by a rapid increase of TN. The concurrent enrichment of δ13C and increase of the C/N ratio suggested the accumulation of organic matter derived from marine primary production during this stage. The accumulation of OC after the 1970s well reflected the significant increase of primary production in the red-tide zone and probably the intensification of hypoxia as well. Plant pigments, including chlorophyll a, β-carotene, and diatoxanthin, showed similar patterns of variation to OC throughout the core, which further confirmed the important contribution of microalgae, particularly diatoms, to the deposited organic matter. Based on the variant profiles of the pigments representative of different microalgal groups, the potential changes of the phytoplankton community since the 1970s were discussed.
Keywordseutrophication harmful algal bloom hypoxia pigment sediment core Changjiang River estuary
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