Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.

Euphotic zone nitrification in the California Current Ecosystem

TitleEuphotic zone nitrification in the California Current Ecosystem
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsStephens BM, Wankel SD, J. Beman M, Rabines AJ, Allen AE, Aluwihare LI
Date Published2019/11
Type of ArticleJournal article
ISBN Number0024-3590

Nitrification, the microbial conversion of ammonium to nitrite then to nitrate, occurs throughout the oceanic water column, yet the environmental factors influencing the production of nitrate in the euphotic zone (EZ) remain unclear. In this study, the natural abundances of N and O isotopes (δ15N and δ18O, respectively) in nitrate were used in an existing model framework to quantify nitrate contributed by EZ nitrification in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) during two anomalously warm years. Model data estimated that between 6% and 36% of the EZ nitrate reservoirs were derived from the combined steps of nitrification within the EZ. The CCE data set found nitrification contributions to EZ nitrate to be positively correlated with nitrite concentrations () at the depth of the primary nitrite maximum (PNM). Building on this correlation, EZ nitrification in the southern California Current was estimated to contribute on average 20% ± 6% to EZ nitrate as inferred using the PNM of the long-term California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI) survey record. A multiple linear regression analysis of the CalCOFI PNM time series identified two conditions that led to positive deviations in . Enhanced PNM , and potentially enhanced EZ nitrification, may be linked to (1) reduced phytoplankton competition for ammonium () and as interpreted from particulate organic carbon:chlorophyll ratios, and/or (2) to increased supply of (and then oxidation to ) from the degradation of organic nitrogen as interpreted from particulate organic nitrogen concentrations.

Student Publication: 
Research Topics: