, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 97–106 | Cite as

The effect of periphyton stoichiometry and light on biological phosphorus immobilization and release in streams

  • W. M. Drake
  • J. Thad ScottEmail author
  • Michelle Evans-White
  • Brian Haggard
  • Andrew Sharpley
  • Chris W. Rogers
  • Erin M. Grantz
Research Paper


Periphyton stoichiometry can vary substantially as a result of differences in stream nutrient availability. A decrease in the periphyton carbon to phosphorus (C:P) ratio should decrease the demand for new P to be immobilized from stream water, but no studies to our knowledge have explored the relationship between periphyton stoichiometry and net P immobilization and release by periphyton. We sought to model biological P immobilization and release (flux) in streams by measuring periphyton stoichiometry and light availability. We measured P flux to and from intact periphyton on stream cobbles (20–100 mm diameter) in 1 L microcosms incubated with streamwater under variable light conditions. Net P immobilization occurred in 75% of microcosms, net P release occurred in only 5% of microcosms, and 20% of microcosms had neither net immobilization nor net release. When normalized to stream conditions, net P immobilization was highest when light availability was high (<60% canopy attenuation) and the periphyton C:P ratio was also high. In contrast, net P release occurred only when light availability was low (>60% canopy attenuation) and the periphyton C:P ratio was also low. A multiple regression model that included both periphyton stoichiometry and light availability from the growing season only, and the interaction term of these two variables, explained 99% of the variation in daily periphyton P flux observed in the study. These results indicate that in order to predict periphyton P immobilization, periphyton stoichiometry and light availability should be considered together. Furthermore, the results indicate that net P immobilization occurs even in very P-rich periphyton, which can act as a P sink when light availability is high.


Phosphorus spiraling Transient storage Element ratios 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. M. Drake
    • 1
  • J. Thad Scott
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Evans-White
    • 2
  • Brian Haggard
    • 3
  • Andrew Sharpley
    • 1
  • Chris W. Rogers
    • 1
  • Erin M. Grantz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.Arkansas Water Resource CenterUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

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