Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : This paper documents ambient concentrations of nutrients in the Belgian coastal waters of the North Sea during the spring of 1996 and 1997. The paper elaborates the differences of uptake rates of oxidised nitrogen (NO3−) and reduced nitrogen (NH4 and urea) by Phaeocystis and diatoms. The nitrogen concentrations were dominated by NO3− with a maximum concentration of 30 μM (January 1997) and 40 μM (March 1996). In 1996, Phaeocystis dominated the spring biomass with a maximum of 521 μg C l−1, while maximum diatom biomass was 174 μg C l−1. In 1997, the maximum Phaeocystis spring biomass was 1600 μg C l−1 and diatom maximum biomass was below 100 μg C l−1. A maximum bacteria biomass of about 55 μg C l−1 was observed in mid-May 1996. The maximum nitrogen uptake rates were recorded during spring and were dominated by NO3− (0.005 h−1 in 1996 and 0.032 h−1 in 1997). Maximum specific NH4 uptake rates were between 0.005 h−1 in May 1996 and 0.006 h−1 in April 1997. The NO3− uptake rates displayed exponential decrease versus increasing ambient reduced nitrogen concentrations (ammonium and urea), whereas the reduced nitrogen uptake increased but never compensated the decreased nitrate uptake. The NH4 uptake kinetics of diatoms displayed lower vmax compared to Phaeocystis. Consequently, Phaeocystis showed ability to increase their NH4 uptake capacity when more NH4 became available while diatoms failed to do so, after ammonium had exceeded their saturation concentration (>1 μM). Although reduced nitrogen has a negative effect on the uptake of NO3−, Phaeocystis have more advantage than diatoms on the uptake of ammonium. This might be contributing to the biomass domination shown by Phaeocystis over extended periods in spring.