Nutrient limitation of algal biomass accrual in streams: seasonal patterns and a comparison of methods

TitleNutrient limitation of algal biomass accrual in streams: seasonal patterns and a comparison of methods
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsFrancoeur SN, Biggs BJF, Smith RA, Lowe RL
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Volume18
Issue2
Pagination242-260
KeywordsRATIOS
Abstract

In-situ, nutrient amendment experiments (nutrient-diffusing substrata, NDS) were conducted in 12 New Zealand gravel-bed streams to investigate seasonality of biomass accrual and nutrient limitation of benthic algal communities. Benthic algal biomass accrual rates exhibited significant (p=0.019, repeated measures ANOVA) seasonal differences; rates were greatest in summer and least in winter. The degree of nutrient limitation also differed (p=0.003) seasonally; periphyton community biomass was most responsive to nutrient amendments in summer and least responsive in winter. Temperature may be the underlying cause of these patterns. The ratios of dissolved inorganic nitrogen to soluble reactive phosphorus (DIN:SRP) in streamwater and of streambed periphyton communities were of limited use for predicting which nutrient limited NDS biomassays; cellular nutrient content was weakly predictive. This study demonstrates the need to consider temporal changes (i.e., seasonality) when assessing the influence of nutrients on stream ecosystems, and indicates that the use of nturient ratios to ascertain which nutrient may limit benthic algal biomass should be validated with field experiments.