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Constraining nitrogen sources to a seagrass-dominated coastal embayment by using an isotope mass balance approach
Russell, D.G.; Kessler, A.J.; Wong, W.W.; van Oevelen, D.; Cook, P.L.M. (2022). Constraining nitrogen sources to a seagrass-dominated coastal embayment by using an isotope mass balance approach. Mar. Freshw. Res. 73(5): 703-709. https://dx.doi.org/10.1071/mf21320
In: Marine and Freshwater Research. CSIRO: East Melbourne. ISSN 1323-1650; e-ISSN 1448-6059, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    15N; denitrification; isotope; nitrogen; nitrogen budget; nitrogen fixation; seagrass; tidal flat

Auteurs  Top 
  • Russell, D.G.
  • Kessler, A.J.
  • Wong, W.W.
  • van Oevelen, D., meer
  • Cook, P.L.M.

Abstract
    Nitrogen (N) is often the key nutrient limiting primary production in coastal waters. Quantifying sources and sinks of N is therefore critical to understanding the factors that underpin the productivity of coastal ecosystems. Constraining nitrogen inputs can be difficult for some terms such as N fixation and marine exchange as a consequence of uncertainties associated with scaling and stochasticity. To help overcome these issues, we undertook a N budget incorporating an isotope and mass balance to constrain N sources in a large oligotrophic coastal embayment (Western Port, Australia). The total N input to Western Port was calculated to be 1400 Mg N year−1, which is remarkably consistent with previous estimates of sedimentation rates within the system. Catchment inputs, N fixation, marine sources and atmospheric deposition comprised 44, 28, 28 and 13% of N inputs respectively. Retention of marine-derived N equated to ~3 and ~10% of total N and NOx flushed through the system from the marine end-member. The relatively high contribution of N fixation compared with previous studies was most likely to be due to the high proportion of nutrient-limited intertidal sediments where N is mediated by seagrasses and sediment cyanobacteria.

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