Estuaries

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 887–897

Biomass and production of benthic microalgal communities in estuarine habitats

  • J. Pinckney
  • R. G. Zingmark
Article

Abstract

Accurate measures of intertidal benthic microalgal standing stock (biomass) and productivity are needed to quantify their potential contribution to food webs. Oxygen microelectrode techniques, used in this study, provide realistic measures of intertidal benthic microalgal production. By dividing a salt-marsh estuary into habitat types, based on sediment and sunlight characteristics, we have developed a simple way of describing benthic microalgal communities. The purpose of this study was to measure and compare benthic microalgal biomass and production in five different estuarine habitats over an 18-mo period to document the relative contributions of benthic microalgal productivity in the different habitat types. Samples were collected bimonthly from April 1990 to October 1991. Over the 18-mo period, tall Spartina zone habitats had the highest (101.5 mg chlorophyll a (Chl a) m−2±6.9 SE) and shallow subtidal habitats the lowest (60.4±8.9 SE) microalgal biomass. There was a unimodal peak in biomass during the late winter-early spring period. The concentrations of photopigments (Chl a and total pheopigments) in the 0–5 mm of sediments were highly correlated (r2=0.73 and 0.88, respectively) with photopigment concentrations in the 5–10 mm depth interval. Biomass specific production (μmol O2 mg Chl a−1 h−1) was highest in intertidal mudflat habitats (206.3±11.2 SE) and lowest in shallow subtidal habitats (104.3±11.1 SE). Regressions of maximum production (production at saturating irradiances) vs. biomass (Chl a) in the upper 2 mm of sediment by habitat type gave some of the highest correlations ever reported for benthic microalgal communities (r2 values ranged from 0.43 to 0.73). The habitat approach and oxygen microelectrode techniques provide a useful, realistic ranged from 0.43 to 0.73). The habitat approach and oxygen microelectrode techniques provide a useful, realistic method for understanding the biomass and production dynamics of estuarine benthic microalgal communities.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Admiraal, W. 1984. The ecology of estuarine sediment-inhabiting diatoms. Progress in Phycological Research 3:269–322.Google Scholar
  2. Asmus, R. 1982. Field measurements on seasonal variation of the activity of primary producers on a sandy tidal flat in the northern Wadden Sea. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 16: 389–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bidigare, R., T. Frank, C. Zastrow, and J. Brooks. 1986. The distribution of algal chlorophylls and their degradation products in the Southern Ocean. Deep-Sea Research 33:923–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, D., C. Gibby, and M. Hickman. 1972. Photosynthetic rhythms in epipelic algal populations. British Phycological Journal 7:37–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cadée, G. and J. Hegeman. 1974. Primary production of the benthic microflora living on tidal flats in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 8:260–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Colijn, F. 1982. Light absorption in the waters of the Ems-Dollard estuary and its consequence for the growth of phytoplankton and microphytobenthos. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 15:196–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colijn, F. and V. de Jonge. 1984. Primary production of microphytobenthos in the Ems-Dollard estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 14:185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dame, R. and P. Kenny. 1986. Variability of Spartina alterniflora primary production in the euhaline North Inlet estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 32:71–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dame, R., T. Chrzanowski, K. Bildstein, B. Kjerfve, H. McKellar, D. Nelson, J. Spurrier, S. Stancyk, H. Stevenson, J. Vernberg, and R. Zingmark. 1986. The outwelling hypothesis and North Inlet, South Carolina. Marine Ecology Progress Series 33:217–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Darley, W., E. Dunn, K. Holmes, and H. Larew. 1976. A 14C method for measuring epibenthic microalgal productivity in air. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 25: 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Darley, W., C. Montague, F. Plumley, W. Sage, and A. Psalidas. 1981. Factors limiting edaphic algal biomass and productivity in a Georgia salt marsh. Journal of Phycology 17: 122–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis, M. and C. McIntire. 1983. Effects of physical gradients on the production dynamics of sediment-associated algae. Marine Ecology Progress Series 13:103–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Estrada, M., I. Valiela, and J. Teal. 1974. Concentration and distribution of chlorophyll in fertillized plots in a Massachusetts salt marsh. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 14:47–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fenchel, T. and B. Straarup. 1971. Vertical distribution of photosynthetic pigments and the penetration of light in marine sediments. Oikos 22:172–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Findlay, S. 1981. Small-scale spatial distribution of meiofauna on a mud and sandflat. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 12: 471–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gallagher, J. and F. Daiber. 1974. Primary production of edaphic algal communities in a Delaware salt marsh. Limnology and Oceanography 19:390–395.Google Scholar
  17. Gargas, E. 1970. Measurements of primary production, dark fixation and vertical distribution of the microbenthic algae in the Øresund. Ophelia 8:231–253.Google Scholar
  18. Gould, D. and E. Gallagher. 1990. Field measurement of specific growth rate, biomass, and primary production of benthic diatoms of Savin Hill Cove, Boston. Limnology and Oceanography 35:1757–1770.Google Scholar
  19. Grant, J. 1986. Sensitivity of benthic community respiration and primary production to changes in temperature and light. Marine Biology 90:299–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holland, A., R. Zingmark, and J. Dean 1974. Quantitative evidence concerning the stabilization of sediments by marine benthic diatoms. Marine Biology 27:191–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Holmes, R. and B. Mahall. 1982. Preliminary observations on the effects of flooding and desiccation upon the net photosynthetic rates of high intertidal estuarine sediments. Limnology and Oceanography 27:954–958.Google Scholar
  22. Höpner, T. and K. Wonneberger. 1985. Examination of the connection between the patchiness of benthic nutrient efflux and epiphytobenthos patchiness on intertidal flats. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 19:277–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Joint, I. 1978. Microbial production of an estuarine mudflat. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 7:185–195.Google Scholar
  24. Jørgensen, B. and D. Des Marais. 1986. A simple fiber-optic microprobe for high resolution light measurements: Application in marine sediment. Limnology and Oceanography 31: 1376–1383.Google Scholar
  25. Kneib, R., A. Stiven, and E. Haines. 1980. Stable carbon isotope ratios in Fundulus heteroclitus (L.) muscle tissue and gut contents from a North Carolina Spartina marsh. Journal of Experimental Biology and Ecology 46:89–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lorenzen, C. 1967. Determination of chlorophyll and pheopigments: Spectrophotometric equations. Limnology and Oceanography 12:343–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Montagna, P., B. Coull, T. Herring, and B. Dudley. 1983. The relationship between abundances of meiofauna and their suspected microbial food (diatoms and bacteria). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 17:381–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morris, J. 1989. Modelling light distribution within the canopy of the marsh grass Spartina alterniflora as a function of canopy biomass and solar angle. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 46: 349–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morris, J. and B. Haskin. 1990. A 5-year record of aerial primary production and stand characteristics of Spartina alterniflora. Ecology 71:2209–2217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peterson, B. and R. Howarth. 1987. Sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen isotopes used to trace organic matter flow in the salt-marsh estuaries of Sapelo Island, Georgia. Limnology and Oceanography 32:1195–1213.Google Scholar
  31. Pinckney, J. and R. Sandulli. 1990. Spatial autocorrelation analysis of meiofaunal and microalgal populations on an intertidal sandflat: Scale linkage between consumers and resources. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 30:341–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pinckney, J. and R. Zingmark. 1991. Effects of tidal stage and sun angles on intertidal benthic microalgal productivity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 76:81–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pinckney, J. and R. Zingmark. 1993. Modelling intertidal benthic microalgal production in estuarine ecosystems. Journal of Phycology 29:396–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pinckney, J. and R. Zingmark. In press. Photophysiological responses of intertidal microalgal communities to in situ light environments: Methodological considerations. Limnology and Oceanography.Google Scholar
  35. Pomeroy, L. 1959. Algal productivity in salt marshes of Georgia. Limnology and Oceanography 4:386–397.Google Scholar
  36. Revsbech, N. and B. Jørgensen. 1986. Microelectrodes: Their use in microbial ecology. Advances in Microbial Ecology 9:273–352.Google Scholar
  37. Rizzo, W. 1990. Nutrient exchanges between the water column and a subtidal benthic microalgal community. Estuaries 13:219–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Round, F. 1971. Benthic marine diatoms. Oceanography and Marine Biology Annual Review 9:83–189.Google Scholar
  39. Sellner, K., R. Zingmark, and T. Miller. 1976. Interpretations of the 14C method of measuring the total annual production of phytoplankton in a South Carolina estuary. Botanica Marina 19:119–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shuman, F. and C. Lorenzen. 1975. Quantitative degradation of chlorophyll by a marine herbivore. Limnology and Oceanography 20:580–586.Google Scholar
  41. Sullivan, M. and F. Daiber. 1975. Light, nitrogen, and phosphorus limitation of edaphic algae in a Delaware salt marsh. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 18:79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sullivan, M. and C. Moncreiff. 1988a. A multivariate analysis of diatom community structure and distribution in a Mississippi salt marsh. Botanica Marina 31:93–99.Google Scholar
  43. Sullivan, M. and C. Moncreiff. 1988b. Primary production of edaphic algal communities in a Mississippi salt marsh. Journal of Phycology 24:49–58.Google Scholar
  44. Sullivan, M. and C. Moncreiff. 1990. Edaphic algae are an important component of salt marsh food-webs: Evidence from multiple stable isotope analyses. Marine Ecology Progress Series 62:149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Van Raalte, C., I. Valiela, and J. Teal. 1976. Production of epibenthic salt marsh algae: Light and nutrient limitation. Limnology and Oceanography 21:862–872.Google Scholar
  46. Wasmund, N. 1986. Ecology and bioproduction in the microphytobenthos of the chain of shallow inlets (boddens) south of the Darss-Zingst Peninsula (southern Baltic Sea). International Revue Gesamten Hydrobiology 71:153–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Whitney, D. and W. Darley. 1983. Effect of light intensity upon salt marsh benthic microalgal photosynthesis. Marine Biology 75:249–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Pinckney
    • 1
  • R. G. Zingmark
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal ResearchUniversity of South CarolinaColumbia
  2. 2.Institute of Marine Sciences, 3407 Arendell StreetUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel HillMorehead City

Personalised recommendations