Relative contribution of persistent organic pollutants to marine phytoplankton biomass dynamics in the North Sea and the Kattegat

Gert Everaert, Frederik De Laender, Peter L M Goethals, Colin R. Janssen

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Abstract

In this paper, we use concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and of chlorophyll a to infer POP-induced effects on marine primary production in the Kattegat and the North Sea between the 1990s and the 2000s. To do so, we modelled phytoplankton dynamics using four classical drivers (light and nutrient availability, temperature and zooplankton grazing) and tested whether extending this model with a POP-induced phytoplankton growth limitation term improved model fit to observed chlorophyll a concentrations. Including monitored concentrations of PCBs and pesticides did not lead to a better model fit, suggesting that POP-induced growth limitation of marine phytoplankton in the North Sea and the Kattegat is small compared to the limitations caused by the classical drivers. In an attempt to more fully represent the multitude of POPs in the marine environment, the monitored concentrations were multiplied with a factor 10 and 100. Under these two configurations, region-specific contributions of POPs in the phytoplankton growth limitation were found. The inferred contribution of POPs to phytoplankton growth limitation was ca. 1% in Belgian marine waters, but in the Kattegat POPs explained ca. 10% of the phytoplankton growth limitation. These results suggest that there are regional differences in the contribution of POPs to the phytoplankton growth limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalChemosphere
Volume134
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • Ecosystem model
  • Impact
  • Monitoring data
  • PCBs and pesticides
  • Primary production

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