Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Pamela Hallock Muller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert H. Byrne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly K. Yates, Ph.D.

Keywords

carbonate saturation, CO2-carbonate system, end-members, riverine alkalinity, Springs Coast

Abstract

Archaias angulatus, a large symbiont-bearing foraminifer (Order Miliolida) that produces a Mg-calcite shell, is common throughout the Caribbean and warm western Atlantic region. This species lives abundantly in seagrass beds along the Springs Coast of northwest Florida (up to 4 adults per gram of sediment) where spring-fed rivers emerge from a limestone aquifer, and in Florida Bay to the southeast (25 adults/g) where the sediment is primarily biogenic carbonate. In contrast, live specimens are seldom found in the seagrass beds along the central-west coast of Florida, where barrier islands are dominated by quartz sand. My working hypothesis is that substratum and carbonate chemistry, in addition to temperature and salinity, explain differences in abundance of A. angulatus associated with the seagrass meadows along the west Florida coastline and shelf.

Water chemistry measurements were taken diurnally over 1-2 day periods at four sites in winter, spring and autumn of 2015. Salinity and temperature were measured in situ, and sealed bottles of seawater were transported to the laboratory for analysis of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA). The highest TA was found in the Springs Coast (2766 μmol/kg-seawater, three-season average), along with the lowest salinities, which reveals a strong contribution from the nearby rivers, springs and seeps. A TA end-member regression analysis predicts, and sampling confirms, TA increases with proximity to the river mouth, highlighting the atypical relationship between alkalinity and salinity in this carbonate province.

A gradient in the value of TA was seen among the northern three sites, with TA decreasing from the Springs Coast site southward to Fort Desoto; additionally, the pH and calcium carbonate saturation states were higher at the northernmost sites. The highest ratio of TA to DIC among all four sites was found at the southern edge of the Springs Coast, reflecting strong primary production and DIC uptake by the dense meadows of seagrass in the area. A daytime increase in the TA to DIC ratio was seen at all sites; however, the Springs Coast site (~5km from the Weeki Wachee river mouth) exhibited stronger tidal influences on TA and DIC than diurnal influences. Plots of salinity-normalized TA and DIC indicate the Weeki Wachee coastal area is impacted by calcification and dissolution to a greater extent than by photosynthesis and respiration. The gradual relief off the Springs Coast, as well as clarity of the water column, provide ideal physical habitat, and the input from spring-fed sources enhances the water chemistry for calcifying organisms. Presence of A. angulatus in low salinity waters influenced by high alkalinity riverine discharge led to a new hypothesis that calcification in A. angulatus requires high carbonate alkalinity but not necessarily full marine salinity.

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