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Corpus Systématique Végétale

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Effects of phosphorus mining wastes on the growth of phytoplankton in the Pamlico River Estuary

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  • Edward J. Carpenter
  • Zoology Department, North Carolina State University, 27607, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 02543, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

To test the effects of phosphorus mining waste water (SPW) and domestic sewage on the growth of phytoplankton in the Pamlico River estuary, six 1400 m3 artificial estuaries and eight 15 m3 plastic pools were constructed. Measurements of phytoplankton biomass and abundance of blue-green algae were made at regular intervals in estuaries and pools that contained various concentrations of SPW and artificial sewage. Concentration (excluding controls) of SPW in the pools was 1% and in the estuaries ranged from 2% to 8% of the total water volume. The concentration of an artificial sewage mix in the pools was 0.1% v/v. The present-day concentration of SPW in the lower Pamlico River is about 0.7% v/v and is expected to rise as other companies begin mining operations. Two experiments were carried out, one (44 days long) in the estuaries and one (36 days long) in the plastic pools. The experiments gave evidence that the addition of SPW to estuarine water does not immediately increase the biomass of the phytoplankton. This is most likely because phosphorus apparently does not limit the growth of phytoplankton in the river. As shown in a study that took place in late summer, nitrogen limited the algal photosynthesis in the Pamlico estuary. However, blue-green algae cell numbers (Anabaena sp. andSpirulina sp.) were 77.2% higher (.010<p<.025) than controls in estuaries containing approximately 8% SPW v/v. Although cell numbers were 33.2% above controls in estuaries with 2% SPW v/v, the difference was not statistically significant at the 5% level. Also, blue-green algae (Anabaena torulosa) numbers were 404% higher (.010<p<.025) than controls in plastic pools with 1% SPW v/v and 295% above (.010<p<.025) controls with 1% SPW and 0.1% v/v artificial sewage. The growth of blue-green algae was probably stimulated by the addition of phosphorus in the SPW, and their nitrogen fixing ability allowed them to obtain sufficient nitrogen in waters where this nutrient is otherwise limiting. This increase in blue-green algae may be potentially harmful to the estuary by changing the algal species composition and by adding fixed nitrogen to an estuary where photosynthesis is nitrogen limited. The addition of an artificial sewage mix (commercial fish food) to the plastic pools did not significantly affect the growth of phytoplankton. An analysis of the artificial sewage mix showed that the limiting nutrient nitrogen was apparently not in a form that was available to phytoplankton. This experiment showed that commercial fish food is apparently not an effective substitute for domestic sewage in enrichment bioassays.

Catégories INIST
  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
  • 4 - ecologie animale, vegetale et microbienne
Catégories Scopus
  • 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Aquatic Science
  • 1 - Physical Sciences ; 2 - Chemistry ; 3 - General Chemistry
  • 1 - Physical Sciences ; 2 - Chemical Engineering ; 3 - Catalysis
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Chesapeake Science

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