Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in a small pond in the maritime Antarctic

Small ponds and puddles are extremely common throughout the ice-free areas of the maritime Antarctic. The carbon and nitrogen dynamics in a typical pond on Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands were investigated during summer 1991. The pond vegetation consisted of a benthic mat of cyanobacteria, diatoms and chlorophytes. The mat was not limited by nutrient availability, both phosphorus and nitrogen being available in the overlying water and N:P ratios in both the water and the mat indicating a roughly balanced supply. Maximal rates of carbon fixation of 0.1–0.2 mgC g−1 dry weight h−1 were similar to those of other perennial Antarctic mat communities. Productivity appeared to be limited by physical factors, but the effects of irradiance and temperature could not be separated. Although carbon fixation rates were low, carbon loss processes were minimal leading to an accumulation of material in the mat approximating to one doubling per year. Atmospheric nitrogen fixation was not a significant component of the nitrogen budget of the pond, accounting for only 0.1 % of the nitrogen accumulation by the mat. Nitrogen uptake was largely from dissolved nitrogen sources, in particular as dissolved organic nitrogen. It is concluded that ephemeral water bodies may play a significant role in the nutrient dynamics of maritime Antarctic ecosystems.


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Authors: Davey, Martin C.

1 January, 1993
Hydrobiologia / 257
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