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Molecular and isotopic tracers used to examine sources of organic matter and its incorporation into the food webs of San Francisco Bay

January 1, 1996

Multiple indicators (Chl a, C : N ratios, [δ13C]POC, and two classes of lipid biomarker compounds- sterols and phospholipid ester-linked fatty acids) were used to evaluate spatial and temporal variations in the origin of particulate organic matter (POM) in the San Francisco Bay (SFB) estuary. Comparisons were made between the northern and southern subestuaries of SFB, as well as along the salinity gradient of northern SFB. Two sample types were collected-seston, which was used to characterize the bulk POM, and tissues of the suspension-feeding bivalve Potamocorbula amurensis -in order to evaluate the assimilable portion of the POM. Samples were collected around biological and physical events (phytoplankton blooms and freshwater inflow) thought to be the primary mechanisms controlling temporal variability in organic matter sources. Seston samples indicate that phytoplankton sources of POM are important throughout the entire SFB system, with additional inputs of organic matter from bacterial and terrestrial vascular plant sources delivered to the northern region. Analysis of biomarker compounds in P. amurensis tissues indicates that phytoplankton supply a large fraction of the assimilable carbon to clams throughout SFB, although isotopic analysis of clam tissues suggests that the origin of this reactive carbon varies spatially and that freshwater algae are an important source of reactive organic matter to clams living in northern SFB.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title Molecular and isotopic tracers used to examine sources of organic matter and its incorporation into the food webs of San Francisco Bay
DOI 10.4319/lo.1995.40.1.0067
Authors Elizabeth A. Canuel, James E. Cloern, David B. Ringelberg, James B. Guckert, Greg H. Rau
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Limnology and Oceanography
Series Number
Index ID 70157137
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center

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