The impact of rain water collected at marine, urban and rural sites on coastal phytoplankton biomass, primary production and community composition as well as the effect on microbial plankton metabolism was studied in 3 microcosm experiments conducted under contrasting spring, autumn and winter conditions. The measured responses were highly variable. Rainwater additions increased chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentration (5–68% difference between rainwater treatments relative to the control) in all experiments and reduced or stimulated primary production (PP) depending on the treatment and the experiment (from −10 to +169% relative to the control). Autotrophic stimulation was highest in spring, probably related to the low initial natural nutrient concentrations. Under winter nutrient replete conditions, rainwater inputs changed the phytoplankton community although this change did not promote increases in primary production. Enhancement of net autotrophy (increase of net oxygen production up to 227%) after rainwater inputs were only found during the period of low nutrient availability. Inputs of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) explained a large fraction of the variability in the response of PP, Chl a, community respiration (CR) and net community production (NCP). Our results suggest that differences in the initial environmental conditions (i.e. nutrient availability), rainwater composition and the ability of the present autotrophic communities to utilize the new nutrients result in substantial changes in the microbial responses and associated biologically-mediated carbon fluxes. As atmospheric nutrient inputs into coastal oceans are increasing rapidly, our results help to understand the effects of different inputs on the metabolism of distinct microbial communities.
- rainwater inputs
- microbial metabolism