Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
24 Jan 2008
24 Jan 2008

Short-term fate of phytodetritus in sediments across the Arabian Sea Oxygen Minimum Zone

J. H. Andersson, C. Woulds, M. Schwartz, G. L. Cowie, L. A. Levin, K. Soetaert, and J. J. Middelburg

Abstract. The short-term fate of phytodetritus was investigated across the Pakistan margin of the Arabian Sea at water depths ranging from 140 to 1850 m, encompassing the oxygen minimum zone (~100–1100 m). Phytodetritus sedimentation events were simulated by adding ~44 mmol 13C-labelled algal material per m2 to surface sediments in retrieved cores. Cores were incubated in the dark, at in situ temperature and oxygen concentrations. Overlying waters were sampled periodically, and cores were recovered and sampled (for organisms and sediments) after durations of two and five days. The labelled carbon was subsequently traced into bacterial lipids, foraminiferan and macrofaunal biomass, and dissolved organic and inorganic pools. The majority of the label (20 to 100%) was in most cases left unprocessed in the sediment at the surface. The largest pool of processed carbon was found to be respiration (0 to 25% of added carbon), recovered as dissolved inorganic carbon. Both temperature and oxygen were found to influence the rate of respiration. Macrofaunal influence was most pronounced at the lower part of the oxygen minimum zone where it contributed 11% to the processing of phytodetritus.

Final-revised paper