Nitrogen, phosphorus, silica, and carbon in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia: Differential limitation of phytoplankton biomass and production
Subtropical estuaries have received comparatively little attention in the study of nutrient loading and subsequent nutrient processing relative to temperate estuaries. Australian estuaries are particularly susceptible to increased nutrient loading and eutrophication, as 75% of the population resides within 200 km of the coastline. We assessed the factors potentially limiting both biomass and production in one Australian estuary, Moreton Bay, through stoichiometric comparisons of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), silicon (Si), and carbon (C) concentrations, particulate compositions, and rates of uptake. Samples were collected over 3 seasons in 1997-1998 at stations located throughout the bay system, including one riverine endmember site. Concentrations of all dissolved nutrients, as well as particulate nutrients and chlorophyll, declined 10-fold to 100-fold from the impacted western embayments to the eastern, more oceanic-influenced regions of the bay during all seasons. For all seasons and all regions, both the dissolved nutrients and particulate biomass yielded N : P ratios < 6 and N : Si ratios < 1. Both relationships suggest strong limitation of biomass by N throughout the bay. Limitation of rates of nutrient uptake and productivity were more complex. Low C : N and C : P uptake ratios at the riverine site suggested light limitation at all seasons, low N : P ratios suggested some degree of N limitation and high N : Si uptake ratios in austral winter suggested Si limitation of uptake during that season only. No evidence of P limitation of biomass or productivity was evident. Univ Queensland, Sch Life Sci, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.