Rachel H. R. Stanley and Evan M. Howard,
Quantifying photosynthetic rates of microphytobenthos using the isotope composition of dissolved oxygen, L&O Methods, In press
Microphytobenthos are important mediators of nutrient and carbon fluxes in coastal environments. However, quantifying production rates by microphytobenthos is difficult and existing methods necessitate perhaps erroneous assumptions that dark respiration equals light respiration. Here we present a new method for quantifying photosynthetic rates of microphytobenthos, i.e. gross primary production, by using the triple isotope composition of dissolved oxygen in benthic flux chambers. Because the triple oxygen isotope signature is sensitive to photosynthesis, but not to respiration, this method allows quantification of photosynthetic oxygen fluxes by microphytobenthos without assumptions about respiration. We present results from field experiments in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts which illustrate the method.
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