Optical assessment of phytoplankton nutrient depletion

M.R. Heath, Katherine Richardson, Thomas Kiørboe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The ratio of light absorption at 480 and 665 nm by 90% acetone extracts of marine phytoplankton pigments has been examined as a potential indicator of phytoplankton nutritional status in both laboratory and field studies. The laboratory studies demonstrated a clear relationship between nutritional status (carbon/nitrogen ratio) and the absorption ratio that was independent of light and temperature climate. The absorption ratio for nutrient-replete cells was shown to vary between taxonomic groups. However, the inter-specific variation was less than the differences observed between nutrient-replete and nutrient-depleted cells. The field data suggest that the absorption ratio may be a useful indicator of nutritional status of natural phytoplankton populations, and can be used to augment the interpretation of other data.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)381-396
Publication statusPublished - 1990

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