Effects of shade and nutrient manipulation on periphyton growth in a subtropical stream

T.D. Mosisch, S.E. Bunn, Peter Davies, C.J. Marshall

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56 Citations (Scopus)


We used artificial substrates in an open pasture stream in south-east Queensland, Australia, to test (a) the relative importance of shade vs. nutrients on periphyton growth, and (b) whether nitrogen or phosphorus (or both) are limiting, Nutrient-diffusing substrates consisting of agar solutions with three nutrient treatments (N, P, N + P) were positioned in three shade treatments (0, 50%, 90%) and replicated at five sites. Periphyton communities sampled from substrates of all treatments after four and seven weeks were dominated by diatoms. Chlorophyll a and ash-free dry mass values of periphyton in both shaded treatments were similar to those in open sites. However, the addition of nitrogen resulted in significantly higher chlorophyll a levels compared with phosphorus-enriched substrates and control substrates. After seven weeks, lowest chlorophyll a values were found on phosphorus-enriched substrates. Nutrient additions did not have any measurable effects on periphyton ash-free dry mass values. Nitrogen rather than shade appears to be the primary factor limiting periphyton growth in this open pasture stream. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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