Modeling sinking rate of zooplankton carcasses: Effects of stratification and mixing

Georgiy Kirillin, Hans-Peter Grossart and Kam W. Tang

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(3), 2012, 881-894 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.3.0881

ABSTRACT: Using the carcass sinking rate and density determined in laboratory for several freshwater zooplankton species, we developed a model of zooplankton carcass sinking as affected by turbulence and stratification. The model was subsequently used to estimate the residence time of zooplankton carcasses in the water column of Lake Stechlin, a typical temperate dimictic lake in northeastern Germany. The residence time varied among the different species and was strongly affected by thermal stratification. At the peak of summer stratification, the carcasses stayed up to 5 d in the 70 m-deep water column before reaching the lake bottom. Residence time was long enough that zooplankton carcasses could serve as an important matter and energy source for bacteria in the lake's pelagic zone and hence have the potential to significantly affect aquatic carbon and nutrient cycling. The proposed model of sinking rates, based on physically sound relationships, can be easily applied to other passively sinking particles, and be integrated into large ecosystem models.

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