The planktonic metabolic balance that is the balance between gross primary production (GPP) and community respiration (CR) was determined in Matilda Bay (estuarine) and Woodman Point (coastal) in Perth, Western Australia. The rates of net community production (NCP = GPP - CR) and the ratio between GPP and CR (P/R) were assessed to evaluate whether the metabolic balance in the two coastal locations tends to be net autotrophic (production exceeding community respiration) or net heterotrophic (respiration exceeding production). We also analyzed environmental variability by measuring temperature, salinity, and nutrients and chlorophyll a concentration. Samples were collected biweekly from March 2014 to March 2015. During the study period the metabolic rates were three times higher in Matilda Bay than in Woodman Point. The predominant metabolism was net autotrophic at both sites with P/R ratios >1 in the majority of the sampling dates. In Matilda Bay, the metabolic rates were negatively correlated with salinity denoting river dynamics influence, and positively with chlorophyll a. In Woodman Point only the GPP was positively correlated with chlorophyll a. The positive correlation between P/R ratio and GPP in Matilda Bay and the positive correlations between the metabolic rates and chlorophyll a suggest that factors controlling autotrophic processes are modulating the planktonic metabolic balance in the coastal marine ecosystem in Perth. Significant correlations were found between CR and GPP-standardized to chlorophyll a and water temperature. The net autotrophic metabolic balance indicates that in both ecosystems planktonic communities are acting as a sink of CO2 and as a source of organic matter and oxygen to the system and are able to export organic matter to other ecosystems.
Keywords: Community respiration (CR); Gross primary production (GPP); Indian Ocean; Net community production (NCP); Planktonic metabolic balance; Swan river estuary; Temperature.