, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 143–165 | Cite as

The influence of cyanobacteria blooms on the attenuation of nitrogen throughputs in a Baltic coastal lagoon

  • M. Zilius
  • I. Vybernaite-Lubiene
  • D. Vaiciute
  • J. Petkuviene
  • P. Zemlys
  • I. Liskow
  • M. Voss
  • M. Bartoli
  • P. A. BukaveckasEmail author


We combined a mass balance approach with measurements of air–water and sediment–water nitrogen (N) exchange to better understand the mechanisms attenuating N throughputs in a eutrophic coastal lagoon. We were particularly interested in how seasonal shifts in external versus internal N fluxes and the transition from diatom- to cyanobacteria- dominated phytoplankton communities influence N storage and loss to the atmosphere. We found that on an annual basis almost all of the N removed by the lagoon was due to sediment storage following the spring diatom bloom. This period was characterized by high riverine inputs of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, high rates of assimilatory conversion to particulate nitrogen (PN), and net accrual of N in sediments. By contrast, the larger summer bloom was associated with low sediment N storage, which we attribute in part to the presence of positively-buoyant cyanobacteria. Low settling rates during cyanobacteria blooms favored export of PN to the Baltic Sea over sediment accrual in the lagoon. In addition, summer dinitrogen (N2) fixation by cyanobacteria largely offset annual N2 losses via denitrification. These findings show that cyanobacteria blooms diminish N attenuation within the lagoon by altering the balance of N exchange with the atmosphere and by promoting export of particulate N over sediment burial.


Nitrogen Mass balance Algal blooms Cyanobacteria Baltic Sea Coastal lagoons 



We kindly thank the Coast Guard District of the State Border Guard Service for logistic support, our boat crews for outstanding field campaigns between drifting ices sheets, and Tomas Ruginis for assistance in field sampling. Manuscript preparation was supported by the BONUS project “Nutrient Cocktails in Coastal zones of the Baltic Sea (COCOA)” (No. BONUS-2/2014 and BONUS- COCOA BMBF funded under 03F0683A). The study was partly supported by the Lithuanian EPA project (No. 28TP-2015-19 SUT-15P-13). We gratefully thank the Lithuanian Marine Research Department of the Ministry of Environment for providing meteorological and Nemunas River discharge data. We are indebted to the associated editor of journal and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Zilius
    • 1
  • I. Vybernaite-Lubiene
    • 1
  • D. Vaiciute
    • 1
  • J. Petkuviene
    • 1
  • P. Zemlys
    • 1
  • I. Liskow
    • 2
  • M. Voss
    • 2
  • M. Bartoli
    • 1
    • 3
  • P. A. Bukaveckas
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Marine Research InstituteKlaipeda UniversityKlaipedaLithuania
  2. 2.Department of Biological OceanographyLeibniz Institute for Baltic Sea ResearchRostockGermany
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental SustainabilityUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Biology and Center for Environmental StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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