Relationship between substrate concentration and oxidation of ammonium and methane in a stratified water column

Bettie Ward, K. A. Kilpatrick

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Distributions and oxidation rates of methane and ammonium were investigated during two cruises in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia in late summer. Distributions of inorganic nutrients were related to oxygen distribution, exhibiting large gradients associated with the oxic-anoxic interface. The depth distributions of oxidation rates were also defined by the oxic-anoxic interface: ammonium oxidation occurred at variable rates (up to 120 nM day-1) between the photic zone and the oxic-anoxic interface. Methane oxidation occurred throughout the oxic layer and increased near the interface. The possibility of interactions such as inhibition and competition between the two substrates, methane and ammonium, were investigated in kinetic experiments. Ammonium oxidation rate was independent of both ammonium and methane concentrations. Methane oxidation rates were linearly related to methane concentration, both in manipulation experiments, and in relation to ambient methane concentrations. There was no evidence of interaction between methane and ammonium as alternative substrates for methanotrophic and ammonium oxidizing populations, which were both present in the environment. In September, we observed a bolus-type mixing event, which introduced oxygenated deep water into the inlet beneath a wedge of anoxic, methane-rich water. This kind of event is probably important in determining the rate of methane loss, due to increased microbial oxidation at the boundaries of the anoxic wedge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1193-1208
Number of pages16
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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