Coupling between sediment biogeochemistry and phytoplankton development in a temperate freshwater marsh (Charente-Maritime, France): Evidence of temporal pattern

Research areas:
early diagenesis, Freshwater marsh, iron, nitrogen, nutrient fluxes, phosphorus, phytoplankton
Water Research
In freshwater systems, sediment can be an important source for the internal loading of PO4. The limiting character of this element in such system leads to consider this phenomenon in terms of eutrophication risks and water quality stakes. A four-months follow-up (January, March, April and May 2019) was carried out in a strong phosphate (PO4) limited secondary channel from an artificial irrigation system of Charente Maritime (France) to link the mobilization of remineralization products in the upper 6 cm layer of sediment (conventional core slicing/centrifugation and DET probes) and the phytoplankton biomass dynamics in the water column. Results showed congruent patterns between the temporal succession of the organic matter mineralization processes in the sediment and the primary biomass dynamics in the water column. In January and March (considered in winter), PO4 proved to be retained by adsorption onto iron oxides in anoxic sediment since pore water nitrate inhibited for about a month the respiration of metal oxides in the first cm of sediment, thus limiting PO4 availability and the phytoplankton growth. In April and May (early spring), after exhaustion of pore water nitrate, the dissolutive reduction of iron oxides released PO4 into pore water generated a significant diffusive outgoing flux from the sediment to the water column with a maximum in April (-1.10E-04±2.81E-05 nmol cm−2 s−1). This release coincided with the nanophytoplankton bloom (5.50 µg Chla L−1) and a potential increase of PO4 concentration in the water column. This work provides some insight on the importance of benthic-pelagic coupling in anthropogenic systems. This conceptual model has to be deployed on other sites of interest where internal loading of P takes precedence over external inputs and nitrate mitigation drives its benthic recycling and ultimately its bioavailability. This is to be essential to characterize the aquatic environment quality in order to limit eutrophication risks.