reference : Habitat-specific distinctions in estuarine denitrification affect both ecosystem function and services

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Bibliographic fields
reftype Journal Article
Abstract Resource limitation controls the base of food webs in many aquatic ecosystems. In coastal ecosystems, nitrogen (N) has been found to be the predominant limiting factor for primary producers. Due to the important role nitrogen plays in determining ecosystem function, understanding the processes that modulate its availability is critical. Shallow-water estuarine systems are highly heterogeneous. In temperate estuaries, multiple habitat types can exist in close proximity to one another, their distribution controlled primarily by physical energy, tidal elevation and geomorphology. Distinctions between these habitats such as rates of primary productivity and sediment characteristics likely affect material processing. We used membrane inlet mass spectrometry to measure changes in N2 flux (referred to here as denitrification) in multiple shallow-water estuarine habitats through an annual cycle. We found significantly higher rates of denitrification (DNF) in structured habitats such as submerged aquatic vegetation, salt marshes and oyster reefs than in intertidal and subtidal flats. Seasonal patterns were also observed, with higher DNF rates occurring in the warmer seasons. Additionally, there was an interaction between habitat type and season that we attributed to the seasonal patterns of enhanced productivity in individual habitat types. There was a strong correlation between denitrification and sediment oxygen demand (SOD) in all habitats and all seasons, suggesting the potential to utilize SOD to predict DNF. Denitrification efficiency was also higher in the structured habitats than in the flats. Nitrogen removal by these habitats was found to be an important contributor to estuarine ecosystem function. The ecosystem service of DNF in each habitat was evaluated in US dollars using rates from a regional nutrient-offset market to determine the cost to replace N through management efforts. Habitat-specific values of N removal ranged from approximately three thousand U.S. dollars per acre per year in the submerged aquatic vegetation to approximately four hundred U.S. dollars per acre per year in the subtidal flat. Because of the link between habitat type and processes such as DNF, changes in habitat area and distribution will have consequences for both ecosystem function and the delivery of ecosystem services.
Author Piehler, M. F.; Smyth, A. R.
DOI 10.1890/ES10-00082.1
Issue 1
Journal Ecosphere
Pages art12
Title Habitat-specific distinctions in estuarine denitrification affect both ecosystem function and services
Volume 2
Year 2011
Bibliographic identifiers
_record_number 26226
_uuid 2ab56c13-3607-4f5a-aeb6-3e85da8e64ee