Nitrogen Uptake, Dissolved Organic Nitrogen Release, and New Production

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Science  23 Sep 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5180, pp. 1843-1846
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5180.1843


In oceanic, coastal, and estuarine environments, an average of 25 to 41 percent of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (NH4 + and NO3 ) taken up by phytoplankton is released as dissolved organic nitrogen (DON). Release rates for DON in oceanic systems range from 4 to 26 nanogram-atoms of nitrogen per liter per hour. Failure to account for the production of DON during nitrogen-15 uptake experiments results in an underestimate of gross nitrogen uptake rates and thus an underestimate of new and regenerated production. In these studies, traditional nitrogen-15 techniques were found to underestimate new and regenerated production by up to 74 and 50 percent, respectively. Total DON turnover times, estimated from DON release resulting from both NH4 + and NO3 uptake, were 10 ± 1, 18 ± 14, and 4 days for oceanic, coastal, and estuarine sites, respectively.