Benthic algal response to N and P enrichment along a pH gradient

Hunter J. Carrick, Rex L. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Nutrient enrichment and its effect on benthic algal growth, community composition, and average cell size was assessed across two sites of differing pH within a single habitat. Nutrients were added using in situ substrata, which released either N, P, or no additional nutrients (controls) at each site for 21 days. Upon collection, chlorophyll and biovolume standing stocks of the attached algal microflora were measured. Chlorophyll concentration was different among all treatments, accumulating greatest on P, followed by N, and the least on C substrata (P < 0.001) and was highest at site-2 (P < 0.001), while total algal biovolume was highest on P compared to both N and C substrata (P < 0.05) and did not vary between sites. Increased growth on P substrata was due to the enhanced biovolume of filamentous green algae, although the affected taxa varied between sites. Biovolume to cell density ratios (as a measure of average cell size) were highest on P substrata over both N-enriched and control substrata (P < 0.05) and this pattern was similar between sites. Progression towards a community composed of larger cells following P enrichment observed along this pH gradient, seems to be related to the dominance of larger celled filamentous green algae. Thus, nutrients exhibited greater control on benthic algal growth than did changes in hydrogen ion concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1989


  • benthic algae
  • cell size
  • community structure
  • nutrients
  • pH


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