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Free Content Episodic nutrient supply to a kelp forest ecosystem in Southern California

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Temporal patterns of nutrient input into a Southern California kelp forest were measured using traditional hydrocast sampling coupled with high frequency temperature profiling. Patterns of nutrient input were related to growth rates of Macrocystis pyrifera located in an adjacent kelp forest. There were 2 distinct components to the pattern of nutrient availability. The long term, or seasonal, component was consistent with large-scale storm-induced mixing and horizontal advection during winter months. In addition, vertical motions of the thermocline, bringing nutrients into the kelp forest, occurred throughout the year with a frequency of about 2 per day and were strongest during the summer months. Weekly hydrocast sampling methods were inadequate for measuring these episodic events, and high frequency sampling was required to resolve the pattern of nutrient input accurately. Although measurable, nutrient input from vertical thermocline motion was inadequate to sustain maximum growth of Macrocystis pyrifera at 10m depth during the summer months. Thus, the major component of nutrient input came during the winter. These results indicate that nitrate limitation of M. pyrifera is a likely cause of reduced summer growth. Further, high frequency sampling is necessary to predict nutrient availability in nearshore ecosystems dominated by benthic macrophytes where the pattern of nutrient input is dominated by episodic events of short duration.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1984

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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