It is proposed that the internal loading of phosphorus (P) from sediments plays an important role in seasonal nitrogen (N) limitation for harmful algal blooms (HABs), although there is a lack of experimental evidence. In this study, an eutrophic bay from the large and shallow Lake Taihu was studied for investigating the contribution of internal P to N limitation over one-year field sampling (February 2016 to January 2017). A prebloom-bloom period was identified from February to August according to the increase in Chla concentration in the water column, during which the ratio of total N to total P (TN/TP) exponentially decreased with month from 43.4 to 7.4. High-resolution dialysis (HR-Peeper) and diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) analysis showed large variations in the vertical distribution of mobile P (SRP and DGT-labile P) in sediments, resulting in the SRP diffusion flux at the sediment-water interface ranging from −0.01 to 6.76mg/m2/d (minus sign denotes downward flux). Significant and linear correlations existed between SRP and soluble Fe(II) concentrations in pore water, reflecting that the spatial-temporal variation in mobile P was controlled by microbe-mediated Fe redox cycling. Mass estimation showed that the cumulative flux of SRP from sediments accounted for 54% of the increase in TP observed in the water column during the prebloom-bloom period. These findings are supported by the significantly negative correlation (p<0.01) observed between sediment SRP flux and water column TN/TP during the same period. Overall, these results provide solid evidence for the major role of internal P loading in causing N limitation during the prebloom-bloom period.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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