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Quantifying macrodetritus fluxes from a small temperate estuary

Empirical measurements of estuary-to-coast material fluxes usually exclude the fraction of primary production that is exported as macrodetritus (marine plant litter), potentially leaving a gap in our understanding of the role of estuaries as outwelling systems. To address this gap, we sampled water and suspended material seasonally from the mouth of Pepe Inlet, Tairua Estuary, New Zealand. From samples collected hourly over 24 h, we calculated the lateral tidal fluxes (import, export, net flux) of macrodetritus, particulate and dissolved forms of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Annually, the inlet was a net exporter of N and P (5145 and 362 kg respectively). However, macrodetritus accounted for <13 and <3% of seasonal N and P exports respectively. Macrodetritus is an obvious and visible source of estuary-to-coast subsidy, but our derived nutrient budgets suggest the dissolved and particulate forms dominate the net export of N and P (>87%). Nevertheless, seasonal pulses in the source and supply of macrodetritus may have consequences for the temporal scales over which this resource subsidy affects receiving ecosystems (e.g. intertidal sandflats). These mensurative investigations are useful to inform estuarine nutrient budgets that quantify the ecosystem services provided by temperate estuaries (e.g. contribution to fisheries food webs).
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Gladstone-Gallagher, R. V., Sandwell, D. R., Lohrer, A. M., Lundquist, C. J., & Pilditch, C. A. (2017). Quantifying macrodetritus fluxes from a small temperate estuary. Marine and Freshwater Research, 68(12), 2289–2305. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16408
CSIRO Publishing
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Marine and Freshwater Research. © 2017 CSIRO Publishing.