Letter | Published:

High turnover rates of dissolved organic carbon during a spring phytoplankton bloom

Naturevolume 352pages612614 (1991) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

OCEANIC dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is one of the Earth's largest carbon reservoirs, but until recently its role in the carbon cycle has been neglected. New methodology1, however, has led to larger estimates of DOC concentrations and also to renewed interest in the biochemical lability of DOC2. Previous work found that the mean age of DOC in the surface ocean was > 1,000 years3. To examine the lability of DOC in greater detail, we have conducted experiments to estimate DOC turnover rates in the upper ocean. We directly observed rapid DOC turnover by bacterioplank-ton during the spring phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic ocean. Potential turnover rates, measured in 0.8-um filtered samples, ranged from 0.025 to 0.363 per day, and were consistent with bacterial biomass production and uptake of dissolved nitrogen (NH+4, NO-3 and urea). Our results indirectly suggest that cycling of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) differs from that of DOC. The high estimates of DOC concentrations and turnover rates repeated here, if found to be general, would seem to demand changes in models4 of carbon cycling and of the ocean's role in buffering increases in atmospheric CO2.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Sigumura, Y. & Suzuki, Y. Mar. Chem. 24, 105–131 (1988).

  2. 2

    Toggweiler, J. R. Nature 334, 468 (1988).

  3. 3

    Williams, P. M. & Druffel, E. R. M. Nature 330, 246–248 (1987).

  4. 4

    Toggweiler, J. R. Productivity of the Ocean: Present and Past (eds Berger, W. H. et al.) 65–84 (Wiley, New York, 1989).

  5. 5

    Ducklow, H. W. Oceanogr. Mag. 2, 4–8 (1989).

  6. 6

    Hobbie, J. E. et al. Appl. envir. Microbiol. 33, 1223–1228 (1977).

  7. 7

    Landry, M. R. & Hassett, R. P. Mar. Biol. 16, 283–288 (1982).

  8. 8

    Ducklow, H. W. & Hill, S. M. Limnol. Oceanogr. 30, 239–259 (1985).

  9. 9

    Taylor, G. T. et al. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 23, 129–141 (1985).

  10. 10

    Barber, R. T. Nature 220, 274–275 (1968).

  11. 11

    Ogura, N. Mar. Biol. 13, 89–93 (1972).

  12. 12

    Williams, P. J. leB. Chemical Oceanography (eds Riley, J. P. & Skirrow, G.) 301–363 (Academic, London, 1975).

  13. 13

    Wheeler, P. A. & Kirchman, D. L. Limnol. Oceanogr. 31, 998–1009 (1986).

  14. 14

    Meyer, J. L. et al. Microbiol. Ecol. 13, 13–29 (1987).

  15. 15

    Bjørnsen, P. K. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 30, 191–196 (1986).

  16. 16

    Williams, P. J. leB. Kiel. Meeresforsch. 5, 1–28 (1981).

  17. 17

    Fuhrman, J. A. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 66, 197–203 (1990).

  18. 18

    Sharp, J. H. Nitrogen in the Marine Environment (eds Carpenter, E. J. & Capone, D. G.) 1–35 (Academic, New York, 1983).

  19. 19

    Duursma, E. K. Neth. J. Sea Res. 1, 3–190 (1961).

  20. 20

    Keil, R. G. & Kirchman, D. L. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 73, 1–10 (1991).

  21. 21

    Kirchman, D. L. et al. Deep-Sea Res. 36, 1763–1776 (1989).

  22. 22

    Jackson, G. A. & Williams, P. M. Deep-Sea Res. 32, 223–235 (1985).

  23. 23

    Ittekkot, V. et al. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 4, 299–305 (1981).

  24. 24

    Kirchman, D. L. et al. Limnol. Oceanogr 35, 1258–1266 (1990).

  25. 25

    Parsons, T. R. et al. Mar. envir. Res. 4, 229–242 (1980/1981).

  26. 26

    Suzuki, Y. et al. Mar. Chem. 16, 83–97 (1985).

  27. 27

    Nagata, T. & Watanabe, Y. Appl. envir. Microbiol. 56, 1303–1309 (1990).

  28. 28

    Bratbak, G. Appl. envir. Microbiol. 33, 1488–1493 (1985).

  29. 29

    Whitledge, T. E. et al. Automated Nutrient Analyses in Seawater, Brookhaven Natl. Lab. Publ. No. 51398 (Department of Energy and Environment, Upton, New York, 1981).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, Delaware, 19958, USA

    • David L. Kirchman
  2. Geochemical Laboratory, Meteorological Research Institute, Nagamine 1–1, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki, 305, Japan

    • Yoshimi Suzuki
  3. Bigelow Laboratory, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, 04575, USA

    • Christopher Garside
  4. Horn Point Environmental Laboratory, University of Maryland, Cambridge, Maryland, 21613, USA

    • Hugh W. Ducklow

Authors

  1. Search for David L. Kirchman in:

  2. Search for Yoshimi Suzuki in:

  3. Search for Christopher Garside in:

  4. Search for Hugh W. Ducklow in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/352612a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.