The drivers of biogeochemistry in beach ecosystems: A cross-shore transect from the dunes to the low water line

moritz.holtappels [ at ]


This study addresses key processes in high-energy beach systems using an interdisciplinary approach. We assess spatial variations in subsurface pore water residence times, salinity, organic matter (OM) availability, and redox conditions and their effects on nutrient cycles as well as on microbial community patterns and microphytobenthos growth. At the study site on Spiekeroog Island, southern North Sea, beach hydrology is characterized by the classical zonation with an upper saline plume (USP), a saltwater wedge, and a freshwater discharge tube in between. Sediment and pore water samples were taken along a cross-shore transect from the dunes to the low water line reaching sediment depths down to 5 m below sediment surface. Spatial variations in pore water residence time, salinity, and organic matter availability lead to steep redox and nutrient gradients. Vertical and horizontal differences in the microbial community indicate the influence of these gradients and salinity on the community structure. Modeled seawater flux through the USP and freshwater flux through the tube are on average 2.8 and 0.75 m3 per day and meter of shoreline, respectively. Furthermore, ridge sediments at the lower beach discharge seawater at rates of 0.5 and 1.0 m3 per day and meter of shoreline towards the runnel and seaside, respectively. Applying seawater and freshwater fluxes and representative nutrient concentrations for the discharge zones, nutrient fluxes to adjacent nearshore waters are 117 mmol NH4+, 55 mmol PO43 − and 575 mmol Si(OH)4 per day and meter of shoreline. We propose that this nutrient efflux triggers growth of microphytobenthos on sediment surfaces of the discharge zone. A first comparison of nutrient discharge rates of the beach site with a nearby sandy backbarrier tidal flat margin indicates that the beach system might be of less importance in supplying recycled nutrients to nearshore waters than the backbarrier tidal flat area.

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DOI 10.1016/j.marchem.2017.01.001

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Beck, M. , Reckhardt, A. , Amelsberg, J. , Bartholomä, A. , Brumsack, H. J. , Cypionka, H. , Dittmar, T. , Engelen, B. , Greskowiak, J. , Hillebrand, H. , Holtappels, M. , Neuholz, R. , Köster, J. , Kuypers, M. M. , Massmann, G. , Meier, D. , Niggemann, J. , Paffrath, R. , Pahnke, K. , Rovo, S. , Striebel, M. , Vandieken, V. , Wehrmann, A. and Zielinski, O. (2017): The drivers of biogeochemistry in beach ecosystems: A cross-shore transect from the dunes to the low water line , Marine Chemistry, 190 , pp. 35-50 . doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2017.01.001


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