Articles | Volume 7, issue 9
29 Sep 2010
 | 29 Sep 2010

Succession of the sea-surface microlayer in the coastal Baltic Sea under natural and experimentally induced low-wind conditions

C. Stolle, K. Nagel, M. Labrenz, and K. Jürgens

Abstract. The sea-surface microlayer (SML) is located within the boundary between the atmosphere and hydrosphere. The high spatial and temporal variability of the SML's properties, however, have hindered a clear understanding of interactions between biotic and abiotic parameters at or across the air-water interface. Among the factors changing the physical and chemical environment of the SML, wind speed is an important one. In order to examine the temporal effects of minimized wind influence, SML samples were obtained from the coastal zone of the southern Baltic Sea and from mesocosm experiments in a marina to study naturally and artificially calmed sea surfaces. Organic matter concentrations as well as abundance, 3H-thymidine incorporation, and the community composition of bacteria in the SML (bacterioneuston) compared to the underlying bulk water (ULW) were analyzed. In all SML samples, dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen were only slightly enriched and showed low temporal variability, whereas particulate organic carbon and nitrogen were generally greatly enriched and highly variable. This was especially pronounced in a dense surface film (slick) that developed during calm weather conditions as well as in the artificially calmed mesocosms. Overall, bacterioneuston abundance and productivity correlated with changing concentrations of particulate organic matter. Moreover, changes in the community composition in the field study were stronger in the particle-attached than in the non-attached bacterioneuston. This implies that decreasing wind enhances the importance of particle-attached assemblages and finally induces a succession of the bacterial community in the SML. Eventually, under very calm meteorological conditions, there is an uncoupling of the bacterioneuston from the ULW.

Final-revised paper