Gross primary production (GPP) by benthic microalgae growing on soft sediments is an important contributor to lake productivity in many lakes world-wide. As benthic microalgae have access to nutrients in the sediment they have been regarded as primarily controlled by light, while the role of CO2 as a limiting factor for benthic GPP in lake ecosystems is largely unknown.
In this study, we experimentally tested for CO2 limitation of benthic GPP by collecting littoral surface sediments, with associated benthic microalgae, from a typical boreal lake. Intact sediment cores were incubated at different depths (light conditions) after addition of dissolved inorganic (bicarbonate) or organic (DOC; glucose) carbon as direct and indirect sources of CO2, respectively.
Benthic microalgal GPP was stimulated by both dissolved inorganic carbon and DOC additions at high, but not at low, light levels.
This study shows that benthic microalgal GPP can be CO2-limited when light is not limiting and suggests that both direct (e.g., via groundwater inflow) and indirect (via mineralisation of DOC) CO2 supply can stimulate benthic GPP.
Carbon dioxide limitation of benthic primary production in a boreal lake