The Global Marine Selenium Cycle: Insights from Measurements and Modeling
Anthropogenic activities have increased the selenium (Se) concentration in the biosphere, but the overall impact on the ocean has not been examined. While Se is an essential nutrient for microorganisms, there is little information on the impact of biological processes on the concentration and speciation of Se in the ocean. Additionally, other factors controlling the distribution and concentration of Se species are poorly understood. Here we present data gathered in the subtropical Pacific Ocean during a cruise in 2011 and we used these field data and the literature, as well as laboratory photochemical experiments examining the stability and degradation of inorganic Se (both Se (IV) and Se (VI)) and dimethyl selenide, to further constrain the cycling of Se in the upper ocean. We also developed a multi‐box model for the biosphere to examine the impact of anthropogenic emissions on the concentration and distribution of Se in the ocean. The model concurs with the field data indicating that the Se concentration has increased in the upper ocean waters over the past 30 years. Our observational studies and model results suggest that Se (VI) is taken up by phytoplankton in the surface ocean, in contrast to the results of laboratory culture experiments. In conclusion, while anthropogenic inputs have markedly increased Se in the atmosphere (42%) and net deposition to the ocean (38%) and terrestrial landscape (41%), the impact on Se in the ocean is small (3% increase in the upper ocean). This minimal response reflects its long marine residence time.
Deciphering the Role of Water Column Redoxclines on Methyl mercury Cycling Using Speciation Modeling and Observations From the Baltic Sea
Oxygen-depleted areas are spreading in coastal and offshore waters worldwide, but the implication for production and bioaccumulation of neurotoxic methylmercury (MeHg) is uncertain. We combined observations from six cruises in the Baltic Sea with speciation modeling and incubation experiments to gain insights into mercury (Hg) dynamics in oxygen depleted systems. We then developed a conceptual model describing the main drivers of Hg speciation, fluxes, and transformations in water columns with steep redox gradients. MeHg concentrations were 2–6 and 30–55 times higher in hypoxic and anoxic than in normoxic water, respectively, while only 1–3 and 1–2 times higher for total Hg (THg). We systematically detected divalent inorganic Hg (HgII) methylation in anoxic water but rarely in other waters. In anoxic water, high concentrations of dissolved sulfide cause formation of dissolved species of HgII: HgS2H-(aq) and Hg (SH)20(aq) . This prolongs the lifetime and increases the reservoir of HgII readily available for
methylation, driving the high MeHg concentrations in anoxic zones. In the hypoxic zone and at the hypoxic-anoxic interface, Hg concentrations, partitioning, and speciation are all highly dynamic due to processes linked to the iron and sulfur cycles. This causes a large variability in bioavailability of Hg, and thereby MeHg concentrations, in these zones. We find that zooplankton in the summertime are exposed to 2–6 times higher MeHg concentrations in hypoxic than in normoxic water. The current spread of hypoxic zones in coastal systems worldwide could thus cause an increase in the MeHg exposure of food webs.
Reviews and syntheses: Carbon use efficiency from organisms to ecosystems – definitions, theories, and empirical evidence
The cycling of carbon (C) between the Earth surface and the atmosphere is controlled by biological and abiotic processes that regulate C storage in biogeochemical compartments and release to the atmosphere. This partitioning is quantified using various forms of C-use efficiency (CUE) – the ratio of C remaining in a system to C entering that system. Biological CUE is the fraction of C taken up allocated to biosynthesis. In soils and sediments, C storage depends also on abiotic processes, so the term C-storage efficiency (CSE) can be used. Here we first review and reconcile CUE and CSE definitions proposed for autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms and communities, food webs, whole ecosystems and watersheds, and soils and sediments using a common mathematical framework. Second, we identify general CUE patterns; for example, the actual CUE increases with improving growth conditions, and apparent CUE decreases with increasing turnover. We then synthesize >5000CUE estimates showing that CUE decreases with increasing biological and ecological organization – from unicellular to multicellular organisms and from individuals to ecosystems. We conclude that CUE is an emergent property of coupled biological–abiotic systems, and it should be regarded as a flexible and scale-dependent index of the capacity of a given system to effectively retain C.