Enhanced rates of particulate organic matter remineralization by microzooplankton are diminished by added ballast minerals
Abstract. To examine the potentially competing influences of microzooplankton and calcite mineral ballast on organic matter remineralization, we incubated diatoms in darkness in rolling tanks with and without added calcite minerals (coccoliths) and microzooplankton (rotifers). Concentrations of particulate organic matter (POM in suspension or in aggregates), of dissolved organic matter (DOM), and of dissolved inorganic nutrients were monitored over 8 days. The presence of rotifers enhanced the remineralization of ammonium and phosphate, but not dissolved silicon, from the biogenic particulate matter, up to 40% of which became incorporated into aggregates early in the experiment. Added calcite resulted in rates of excretion of ammonium and phosphate by rotifers that were depressed by 67% and 36%, respectively, demonstrating the potential for minerals to inhibit the destruction of POM by zooplankton in the water column. Lastly, the presence of the rotifers and added calcite minerals resulted in a more rapid initial rate of aggregation, although not a greater overall amount of aggregation during the experiment.