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Phytoplankton indirectly influence climate through their role in the ocean biological carbon pump. In the Southern Ocean, the subantarctic zone represents an important carbon sink, yet variables limiting phytoplankton growth are not fully constrained. Using three shipboard bioassay experiments on three separate voyages, we evaluated the seasonality of iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) co-limitation of subantarctic phytoplankton growth south of Tasmania, Australia. We observed a strong seasonal variation in a phytoplankton Fe limitation signal, with a summer experiment showing the greatest response to Fe additions. An autumn experiment suggested that other factors co-limited phytoplankton growth, likely low silicic acid concentrations. The phytoplankton responses to Mn additions were subtle and readily masked by the responses to Fe. Using flow cytometry, we observed that Mn may influence the growth of some small phytoplankton taxa in late summer/autumn, when they represent an important part of the phytoplankton community. In addition, Mn induced changes in the bulk photophysiology signal of the spring community. These results suggest that the importance of Mn may vary seasonally, and that its control on phytoplankton growth may be associated with specific taxa.
The most recent field study of the Little Swanport estuary, Tasmania carried out by Crawford et al. (2006) collected monthly samples at sites throughout the estuary between January 2004 and January 2005. Measurements included water column nutrients, chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen, salinity, phytoplankton, zooplankton and oyster growth. This work demonstrated that freshwater flows had a significant effect on salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and nutrient levels in the estuary. However, monthly sampling didn’t provide the temporal resolution necessary to detect potential flow-on effects on the biology (e.g. phytoplankton and zooplankton dynamics, oyster growth). To gain an improved understanding of the temporal dynamics of the estuary, including the response to freshwater flow, samples were collected weekly (chlorophyll-a), fortnightly (nutrients and zooplankton) and bimonthly (oysters) between March 2006 and June 2008 at a site in the lower estuary where the majority of oysters are farmed