National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1982

Relationships between organically bound Cu and Mn in settling particulate matter and biological processes in a subarctic estuary

Feely, R.A., A.J. Chester, A.J. Paulson, and J.D. Larrance

Estuaries, 5(1), 74–80, doi: 10.2307/1352219 (1982)

Plankton studies in Kachemak Bay, Alaska were combined with short-term sediment trap deployments in order to show the relationships of fluxes of Cu and Mn in organic particulate matter with biological processes occurring in the overlying water column. A large spring bloom resulted in a maximum in primary productivity in Kachemak Bay in May followed by a gradual decrease throughout the summer, due to decreasing nutrient levels and increasing grazing pressure by zooplankton. The concentration of organically bound Cu and Mn in the sediment trap particulate material increased throughout the summer reaching a maximum in August while fecal pellet production exhibited a similar increase. The fluxes of total particulate matter and organic carbon reached a maximum in June and represented a 30% increase over the corresponding fluxes in May. In contrast, the fluxes of organically bound Cu and Mn and fecal pellets in August represented 200%, 360% and 760% increases, respectively, over their respective fluxes in May. These results suggest that the enrichment of Cu and Mn in the organic particulate matter during August was a result of bioaccumulation of these metals into fecal material. The increase in the flux of the organically bound metals indicates a strong coupling between biological processes in the water column and their vertical transport. Thus, the production and subsequent sinking of fecal pellets may govern the transport of trace metals to the underlying water column and may also govern the transfer of a primary source of food and its associated trace metals to benthic communities.

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