Eutrophication has increased at an alarming rate as a result of anthropogenic runoffs, causing extensive damage to marine ecosystems as well as to human health and industries. This proposal will explore the competition between benthic and pelagic microalgae for nutrients in both sediments and water columns in coastal systems situated near metropolitan or industrial activity.
We will measure benthic and pelagic production both in artificially created microcosms with controlled nutrient levels as well as in natural settings with different types of substrates. We expect that benthic algae production will eventually peak at an optimal nutrient/light ratio. We also expect that having substrates with high nutrient flux rates will also result in high levels of benthic production.
The results of our proposed experiment will have broad implications for researchers’ understanding of the nutrient cycle in marine ecosystems as well as the eutrophication process.