To assess phytoplankton nutritional status in seasonally oligotrophic waters of the southern Mid-Atlantic Bight, and the potential for rain to stimulate primary production in this region during summer, shipboard bioassay experiments were performed using natural seawater and phytoplankton collected north and south of the Gulf Stream. Bioassay treatments comprised iron, nitrate, iron + nitrate, iron + nitrate + phosphate, and rainwater. Phytoplankton growth was inferred from changes in chlorophyll a, inorganic nitrogen, and carbon-13 uptake, relative to unamended control treatments. Results indicated the greatest growth stimulation by iron + nitrate + phosphate, intermediate growth stimulation by rainwater, modest growth stimulation by nitrate and iron + nitrate, and no growth stimulation by iron. Based on these data and analysis of seawater and atmospheric samples, nitrogen was the proximate limiting nutrient, with a secondary limitation imposed by phosphorus. Our results imply that summer rain events increase new production in these waters by contributing nitrogen and phosphorus, with the availability of the latter setting the upper limit on rain-stimulated new production.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)