Report

The CO2 Balance of Unproductive Aquatic Ecosystems

Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 234-236
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5374.234

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Abstract

Community respiration (R) rates are scaled as the two-thirds power of the gross primary production (P) rates of aquatic ecosystems, indicating that the role of aquatic biota as carbon dioxide sources or sinks depends on its productivity. Unproductive aquatic ecosystems support a disproportionately higher respiration rate than that of productive aquatic ecosystems, tend to be heterotrophic (R > P), and act as carbon dioxide sources. The average P required for aquatic ecosystems to become autotrophic (P > R) is over an order of magnitude greater for marshes than for the open sea. Although four-fifths of the upper ocean is expected to be net heterotrophic, this carbon demand can be balanced by the excess production over the remaining one-fifth of the ocean.

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