Plankton dynamics due to rainfall, eutrophication, dilution, grazing and assimilation in an urbanized coastal lagoon

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Journal Article
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2009, 84 (1), pp. 99 - 107
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After a prolonged summer dry period, the effects of a distinctive and continuing rainfall on the nutrients and plankton of an urban coastal lagoon were investigated over 2 months. The lagoon filled up over 5 weeks from <10% of its maximum volume until it broke open to the sea. Nutrients (ammonia and oxidised nitrogen) significantly increased the day after initial rainfall, before returning to pre-rainfall conditions within 5 days. Phytoplankton biomass grew 10 fold within a week after initial rainfall in the 25-30 °C water and declined to near initial levels 2 weeks later. The assemblage of phytoplankton and zooplankton changed dramatically after 1 day and again by 6 days later, gradually returning to the original community by 2 weeks after the initial rainfall. Zooplankton responded within a day with a two fold increase in the adult stages of the calanoid copepod Oithona sp., followed a week later by nauplii and adult Acartia bispinosa. The influx of adult Oithona indicates resting populations that were previously under sampled by our plankton net. The plankton community returned to the initial state by 2 weeks, to being dominated by a centric diatom and A. bispinosa after 5 weeks. Dilution of the lagoon reached a maximum of 0.25 d-1, while growth rates of the phytoplankton population reached a maximum of 1 d-1, and A. bispinosa nauplii growth of 2.5 d-1. Declines in chlorophyll biomass from the maximum 10 μg l-1, at a rate of approximately 10% d-1 are consistent with the modelled uptake by zooplankton. The nutrients from runoff, growth and the influx of new zooplankton into the water column, resulted in a depleted δ13C and δ15N stable isotope signature of A. bispinosa by 2-4 ppt within 1-2 weeks, consistent with diatom growth and the terrestrial supply of depleted nutrients. δ34S of A. bispinosa was enriched by 2 ppt for 1-2 weeks after rainfall, but unlike C and N, returned to pre-rainfall levels by the end of the study period. We suggest that plankton studies in coastal lakes with variable water levels that are not tidally driven, should account for the influence of changes in water levels to help explain data variability. Crown Copyright © 2009.
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