Experimental assessment of the macroalgae Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus for monitoring N sources at different time-scales using stable isotope composition Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Stable isotope composition of brown macroalgae has been widely used to monitor N loading during the last decades but some of the required assumptions when using them to detect anthropogenic inputs remain untested. In this study several experiments were run with two key species, A. nodosum and F. vesiculosus, to determine internal nitrogen isotope dynamics. First, the equilibration of the isotopic values of the different parts of the thallus of these species was tested by growing them under different water sources. Then, nitrate uptake capacity and N transport along the frond were tested by 15N enrichment experiments. The results indicate that although the growing tips had the highest uptake rates, older parts of the frond of both species have the capacity to incorporate N at low rates. No evidence of N transport along the thallus, from the tip to the basal segment of the frond or the converse was found. These results show that the growing tips of these macroalgae can be used to monitor N loadings at time scales from weeks (F. vesiculosus) to months (A. nodosum). The use of non-growing parts of the thallus to do retrospective studies cannot be recommended because of their measurable exchange of N with the surrounding water.

publication date

  • May 2015