Control of Phosphorus Concentration through Adsorption and Desorption in Shallow Groundwater of Subtropical Carbonate Estuary

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abiotic factors, bicarbonates, everglades, florida, mangroves, phosphates, sediment dynamics, taylor slough, usa

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The changes in the proportion of fresh and marine water sources in coastal mixing zones can affect phosphorus (P) availability, one of the important drivers of primary productivity. This study focuses on an abiotic portion of the P cycle in the mangrove ecotone of Taylor Slough, coastal Everglades, Florida. We investigated the P sorption properties of sediment with three distinct water sources in this region: 1) fresh groundwater from the inland Everglades, 2) bicarbonate enriched groundwater from the mangrove ecotone, and 3) surface saltwater from Florida Bay. Soluble reactive P (SPR) in ecotone groundwater exhibit markedly low sorption efficiency (Kd = 0.2 L g-1) onto the sediment compared to fresh groundwater and Florida Bay water (11.3 L g-1 and 3.4 L g-1, respectively). The low SRP buffering capacity of the sediment in ecotone groundwater would maintain a higher ambient water SRP concentration in ecotone groundwater than in the other two waters. The relative sorption efficiency is consistent with the measured zero equilibrium SRP concentration being highest in ecotone groundwater (0.094 ± 0.003 μM) and lower in fresh groundwater and Florida Bay surface water (0.075 ± 0.005 μM and 0.058 ± 0.004 μM, respectively). The temporal variability of SRP concentration in groundwater at the ecotone field station is greater than the range of zero equilibrium SRP concentration for all three waters, so very low SRP concentration in the ambient water would induce desorption of P from the sediment. Such desorption processes would result in a higher ambient SRP concentration in ecotone groundwater than the other two water types. Our results suggest that ecotone groundwater, due to its higher bicarbonate content, would release more SRP from mangrove sediments compared to the upstream and downstream waters, as evidenced by both its lower P sorption efficiency and its higher zero equilibrium SRP concentration.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 169, p. 238-247