Nutrient attenuation in a shallow, gravel-bed river. I. In-situ chamber experiments

Dissolved nutrient uptake and metabolism by periphyton in a central North Island gravel-bed river were investigated using recirculating in-situ chambers. Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) uptake was correlated with photosynthesis and chlorophyll but N uptake and carbon fixation were partly de-coupled indicating storage. Dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) uptake was only weakly correlated with photosynthesis. Diatoms and green algae relied on DRP in the water, but Cyanobacteria met part of their P needs from storage. Dissolved organic nutrients were excreted in both light and dark incubations, with approximately 50% of DIN uptake during photosynthesis excreted as DON. To simulate diurnal variations in nutrients, oxygen and pH existing computer models need to de-couple photosynthesis from nutrient uptake, allow for variable stoichiometry and better quantify recycling of organic nutrients.