Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 37, Supplement 1, pp 91–110 | Cite as

Fortnightly Tidal Modulations Affect Net Community Production in a Mesotidal Estuary

  • Nicholas J. NidziekoEmail author
  • Joseph A. Needoba
  • Stephen G. Monismith
  • Kenneth S. Johnson


Optical in situ chemical sensors enable sampling intervals and durations that rival acoustic techniques used for measuring currents. Coupling these high-frequency biogeochemical and physical measurements in estuaries to address ecosystem-scale questions, however, is still comparatively novel. This study investigated how tides affect ecosystem metabolism in a mesotidal estuary in central California (Elkhorn Slough). Dissolved oxygen measurements were used to estimate the terms in a control volume budget for a tidal creek/marsh complex at tidal timescales over several weeks. Respiration rates were 1.6 to 7.3 g O2 m−2 day−1; net community production approached 20 g O2 m−2 day−1. We found that aquatic NCP integrated throughout the creek complex varied significantly over the spring-neap cycle. The intertidal contribution to aquatic metabolism was net heterotrophic during spring tides and generally in balance during neap tides because spring-tide marsh inundation was limited to nighttime, and therefore the marsh could not contribute any primary production to the water column. At the estuary scale, the fortnightly export of oxygen from the main channel to the intertidal was largely balanced by an advective flux up-estuary.


Biogeochemical cycling Elkhorn Slough Tides Air-sea gas exchange Primary production Ecosystem metabolism Estuarine mixing Net community production 



Data collection was supported by a Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment grant. Field assistance was provided by C. Francis, J. Smith, M. Squibb, R. Walter, and K. Willis. Bathymetry LIDAR data used in the upper slough volume calculations were provided by P. Iampietro and R. Kvitek at CSU Monterey Bay. The constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. The guest editors of the special issue are thanked for their patience.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas J. Nidzieko
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joseph A. Needoba
    • 2
  • Stephen G. Monismith
    • 3
  • Kenneth S. Johnson
    • 4
  1. 1.Horn Point LaboratoryUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental HealthOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil & Environmental EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Monterey Bay Aquarium Research InstituteMoss LandingUSA

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