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Importance of coastal primary production in the northern Baltic Sea

Ask, Jenny, Rowe, Owen, Brugel, Sonia, Strömgren, Mårten, Byström, Pär, Andersson, Agneta
Ambio 2016 v.45 no.6 pp. 635-648
benthic organisms, ecosystems, estuaries, habitats, microalgae, primary productivity, Baltic Sea
In this study, we measured depth-dependent benthic microalgal primary production in a Bothnian Bay estuary to estimate the benthic contribution to total primary production. In addition, we compiled data on benthic microalgal primary production in the entire Baltic Sea. In the estuary, the benthic habitat contributed 17 % to the total annual primary production, and when upscaling our data to the entire Bothnian Bay, the corresponding value was 31 %. This estimated benthic share (31 %) is three times higher compared to past estimates of 10 %. The main reason for this discrepancy is the lack of data regarding benthic primary production in the northern Baltic Sea, but also that past studies overestimated the importance of pelagic primary production by not correcting for system-specific bathymetric variation. Our study thus highlights the importance of benthic communities for the northern Baltic Sea ecosystem in general and for future management strategies and ecosystem studies in particular.