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The stoichiometric ratio during biological removal of inorganic carbon and nutrient in the Mississippi River plume and adjacent continental shelf

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Author(s): W.-J. Huang | W.-J. Cai | R. T. Powell | S. E. Lohrenz | Y. Wang | L.-Q. Jiang | C. S. Hopkinson

Journal: Biogeosciences Discussions
ISSN 1810-6277

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1557;
Date: 2012;
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ABSTRACT
The stoichiometric ratios of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and nutrients during biological removal have been widely assumed to follow the Redfield ratios (especially the C/N ratio) in large river plume ecosystems. However, this assumption has not been systematically examined and documented because DIC and nutrients are rarely studied simultaneously in a river plume area, a region in which they can be affected by strong river-ocean mixing as well as intense biological activity. We examined stoichiometric ratios of DIC, total alkalinity (TA), and nutrients (NO3, PO43− and Si(OH)4) data during biological removal in the Mississippi River plume and adjacent continental shelf in June 2003 and August 2004 with biological removals defined as the difference between measured values and values predicted on the basis of conservative mixing determined using a multi-endmember mixing model. Despite complex physical and biogeochemical influences, relationships between DIC and nutrients were strongly dependent on salinity range and geographic location, and influenced by biological removal. Lower C/Si and N/Si ratios in one nearshore area were attributed to a potential silicate source induced by water exchange with coastal salt marshes. When net biological uptake was separated from river-ocean mixing and the impact of marshes and bays excluded, stoichiometric ratios of C/N/Si were similar to the Redfield ratios, thus supporting the applicability of the Redfield-type C/N/Si ratios as a principle in river-plume biogeochemical models.
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