Diatoms, silicic acid and biogenic silica dynamics along the salinity gradient of the Scheldt estuary (Belgium/The Netherlands)
Carbonnel, V.; Vanderborght, J.-P.; Lionard, M.; Chou, L. (2013). Diatoms, silicic acid and biogenic silica dynamics along the salinity gradient of the Scheldt estuary (Belgium/The Netherlands). Biogeochemistry 113(1-3): 657-682. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10533-012-9796-y
The Scheldt estuary (Belgium/The Netherlands) was sampled along the entire salinity gradient from 2003 to 2005 for silicic acid (DSi), biogenic silica (BSi), suspended particulate matter (SPM) and pigments. Net DSi consumption and/or release within the estuary were investigated by comparing measured DSi concentrations with (fully-transient) model simulations of the concentrations that would have been obtained in case of conservative transport. The DSi consumption was at maximum in May due to diatoms of presumably marine origin blooming in the lower estuary. DSi consumption decreased rapidly in July, probably because of the grazing pressure of copepods also of marine origin, and DSi was released from late summer onwards. Multiple regression analyses showed that most of the BSi did not follow the dynamics of the living diatoms but rather that of the SPM. They also suggested that diatoms were more silicified in the upper estuary than in the lower estuary. Phytoliths were not expected to contribute significantly to the BSi pool. As BSi dynamics strongly differed from those of diatoms and DSi, this study highlighted the importance of taking BSi into account when investigating estuarine silica dynamics. This study also revealed the fundamental role of the coupling between the biogeochemical and ecological functioning of the lower estuary and that of the adjacent coastal zone. This contrasts with the classical consideration that estuaries act as one-way filters for dissolved and particulate material of riverine origin.
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