Macroalgal metabolism and lateral carbon flows can create significant carbon sinks

Watanabe, Kenta; Yoshida, Goro; Hori, Masakazu; Umezawa, Yu; Moki, Hirotada; Kuwae, Tomohiro

Macroalgal beds have drawn attention as one of the vegetated coastal ecosystems that act as atmospheric inline-formulaCO2 sinks. Although macroalgal metabolism as well as inorganic and organic carbon flows are important pathways for inline-formulaCO2 uptake by macroalgal beds, the relationships between macroalgal metabolism and associated carbon flows are still poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated carbon flows, including air–water inline-formulaCO2 exchange and budgets of dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), in a temperate macroalgal bed during the productive months of the year. To assess the key mechanisms responsible for atmospheric inline-formulaCO2 uptake by the macroalgal bed, we estimated macroalgal metabolism and lateral carbon flows (i.e., carbon exchanges between the macroalgal bed and the offshore area) by using field measurements of carbon species, a field-bag method, a degradation experiment, and mass-balance modeling in a temperate Sargassum bed over a diurnal cycle. Our results showed that macroalgal metabolism and lateral carbon flows driven by water exchange affected air–water inline-formulaCO2 exchange in the macroalgal bed and the surrounding waters. Macroalgal metabolism caused overlying waters to contain low concentrations of inline-formulaCO2 and high concentrations of DOC that were efficiently exported offshore from the macroalgal bed. These results indicate that the exported water can potentially lower inline-formulaCO2 concentrations in the offshore surface water and enhance atmospheric inline-formulaCO2 uptake. Furthermore, the Sargassum bed exported 6 %–35 % of the macroalgal net community production (NCP; 302–1378 mmol C minline-formula−2 dinline-formula−1) as DOC to the offshore area. The results of degradation experiments showed that 56 %–78 % of macroalgal DOC was refractory DOC (RDOC) that persisted for 150 d; thus, the Sargassum bed exported 5 %–20 % of the macroalgal NCP as RDOC. Our findings suggest that macroalgal beds in habitats associated with high water exchange rates can create significant inline-formulaCO2 sinks around them and export a substantial amount of DOC to offshore areas.

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Watanabe, Kenta / Yoshida, Goro / Hori, Masakazu / et al: Macroalgal metabolism and lateral carbon flows can create significant carbon sinks. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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