Assessing the impact of nutrient enrichment in estuaries: susceptibility to eutrophication

Painting, S J , Devlin, M.J., Malcolm, S. J., Parker, E.R., Mills , D.K., Mills, C., Tett, P., Wither, A., Burt, J., Jones, R., and Winpenny, K. (2006) Assessing the impact of nutrient enrichment in estuaries: susceptibility to eutrophication. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 55. pp. 74-91.

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Abstract

The main aim of this study was to develop a generic tool for assessing risks and impacts of nutrient enrichment in estuaries. A simple model was developed to predict the magnitude of primary production by phytoplankton in different estuaries from nutrient input (total available nitrogen and/or phosphorus) and to determine likely trophic status. In the model, primary production is strongly influenced by water residence times and relative light regimes. The model indicates that estuaries with low and moderate light levels are the least likely to show a biological response to nutrient inputs. Estuaries with a good light regime are likely to be sensitive to nutrient enrichment, and to show similar responses, mediated only by site-specific geomorphological features. Nixon’s scale was used to describe the relative trophic status of estuaries, and to set nutrient and chlorophyll thresholds for assessing trophic status. Estuaries identified as being eutrophic may not show any signs of eutrophication. Additional attributes need to be considered to assess negative impacts. Here, likely detriment to the oxygen regime was considered, but is most applicable to areas of restricted exchange. Factors which limit phytoplankton growth under high nutrient conditions (water residence times and/or light availability) may favour the growth of other primary producers, such as macrophytes, which may have a negative impact on other biological communities. The assessment tool was developed for estuaries in England and Wales, based on a simple 3-category typology determined by geomorphology and relative light levels. Nixon’s scale needs to be validated for estuaries in England and Wales, once more data are available on light levels and primary production.

Item ID: 8969
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: estuaries; nutrients; light; primary production; Eutrophication
ISSN: 1879-3363
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2010 03:17
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 30%
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