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Phytoplanktonic response to contrasted Saharan dust deposition events during mesocosm experiments in LNLC environment

January 23, 2014

The response of the phytoplanktonic community (primary production and algal biomass) to contrasted Saharan dust events (wet and dry deposition) was studied in the framework of the DUNE “a DUst experiment in a low-Nutrient, low-chlorophyll Ecosystem” project. We simulated realistic dust deposition events (10 g m−2) into large mesocosms (52 m3). Three distinct experimental dust additions were conducted in June 2008 (DUNE-1-P: simulation of a wet deposition, DUNE-1-Q: simulation of a dry deposition) and 2010 (DUNE-2-R1, -R2: simulation of 2 successive wet depositions) in the northwestern oligotrophic Mediterranean Sea. No changes in primary production (PP) and chlorophyll a concentration (Chl a) were observed after a dry deposition event while a wet deposition event resulted in a rapid (24 h after dust additions), strong (up 2.4 fold) and long (at least a week duration) increase in PP and Chl a. We show that in addition to being a source of dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP), simulated wet deposition events were also a significant source of NO3 (net increases up to +9.8 μM NO3 at 0.1 m depth) to the nutrient depleted surface waters due to cloud processes and mixing with anthropogenic species such as HNO3. The dry deposition event was shown to be a negligible source of NO3. By transiently increasing DIP and NO3 concentrations in P-N starved surface waters, wet deposition of Saharan dust was able to relieve the potential N or NP co-limitation of the phytoplanktonic activity. Due to the higher input of NO3 relative to DIP, a wet deposition event resulted in a strong increase in the NO3/DIP ratio from initially < 6 to over 150 at the end of the DUNE-2-R1 experiment suggesting a switch from an initial N or NP co-limitation towards a severe P limitation. We also show that the contribution of new production to PP increased after wet dust deposition events from initially 15% to 60–70% 24 h after seeding, indicating a switch from a regenerated-production based system to a new-production based system. DUNE experiments show that wet and dry dust deposition events induce contrasted responses of the phytoplanktonic community due to differences in the atmospheric supply of bioavailable new nutrients. Our results from original mesocosm experiments demonstrate that atmospheric dust wet deposition greatly influences primary productivity and algal biomass in LNLC environments, changes nutrient stocks and alters the NO3/DIP ratio leading to a switch in the nutrient limitation of the phytoplanktonic activity.

Ridame C, Dekaezemacker J, Guieu C, Bonnet S, L’Helguen S, and Malien, F.: Phytoplanktonic response to contrasted Saharan dust deposition events during mesocosm experiments in LNLC environment, Biogeosciences Discussions, 11, 753-796, doi:10.5194/bgd-11-753-2014, 2014. Article.

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