The effects of nutrient loading on phytoplankton, zooplankton and macrozoobenthos in experimental ecosystems was studied in a 7-month experiment. The mesocosms were designed to mimic the major physical characteristics (irradiance, temperature, mixing) of the Dutch coastal zone in the river Rhine plume. Three different nutrient loading scenarios were used, representing present and future conditions. The level of the spring phytoplankton bloom was determined by phosphorus loading, whereas during summer the nitrogen loading determined phytoplankton biomass. The differences in nutrient loading did not result in shifts in phytoplankton species composition. With exception of the early phase of the spring bloom, diatoms dominated phytoplankton biomass in all nutrient treatments. This was ascribed to microzooplankton grazing on smaller algal species. Microzooplankton biomass showed a positive correlation with primary production, and also significant differences between nutrient treatments. Copepod development was limited, probably due to competition with microzooplankton and predation by benthic fauna. Macrobenthos biomass correlated with primary production, and was lower in the lowest nutrient treatment. [KEYWORDS: eutrophication, mesocosm, phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrobenthos]
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Ecology
Journal publication date1999

ID: 146768