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Nutrient and carbonate chemistry patterns associated with Karenia brevis blooms in three West Florida Shelf estuaries 2020-2023

January 25, 2024

Ocean acidification (OA) driven by eutrophication, riverine discharge, and other threats from local population growth that affect the inorganic carbonate system is already affecting the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Long-term declines in pH of ~ -0.001 pH units yr-1 have been observed in many southwest Florida estuaries over the past few decades. Coastal and estuarine waters of southwest Florida experience high biomass harmful algal blooms (HABs) of the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis nearly every year; and these blooms have the potential to impact and be impacted by seasonal to interannual patterns of carbonate chemistry. Sampling was conducted seasonally along three estuarine transects (Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Caloosahatchee River) between May 2020 and May 2023 to obtain baseline measurements of carbonate chemistry prior to, during, and following K. brevis blooms. Conductivity, temperature and depth data and discrete water samples for K. brevis cell abundance, nutrients, and carbonate chemistry (total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbonate (DIC), pCO2, and pHT were evaluated to identify seasonal patterns and linkages among carbonate system variables, nutrients, and K. brevis blooms. Karenia brevis blooms were observed during six samplings, and highest pCO2 and lowest pHT was observed either during or after blooms in all three estuaries. Highest average pH and lowest pCO2 were observed in Tampa Bay. In all three estuaries, average DIC and pHT were higher and pCO2 was lower during dry seasons than wet seasons. There was strong influence of net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP) on the carbonate system; and NCC : NCP ratios in Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and the Caloosahatchee River were 0.83, 0.93, and 1.02, respectively. Linear relationships between salinity and dissolved ammonium, phosphate, and nitrate indicate strong influence of freshwater inflow from river input and discharge events on nutrient concentrations. This study is a first step towards connecting observations of high biomass blooms like those caused by K. brevis and alterations of carbonate chemistry in Southwest Florida. Our study demonstrates the need for integrated monitoring to improve understanding of interactions among the carbonate system, HABs, water quality, and acidification over local to regional spatial scales and event to decadal time scales.

Publication Year 2024
Title Nutrient and carbonate chemistry patterns associated with Karenia brevis blooms in three West Florida Shelf estuaries 2020-2023
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2024.1331285
Authors Emily R. Hall, Kimberly Yates, Katherine A. Hubbard, Matt Garrett, Jessica Frankle
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Marine Science
Index ID 70251838
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center