Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science




107571 (1-17 pp.)


Tropical coastal waters are highly dynamic and amongst the most biogeochemically active zones in the ocean. This review compares nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles in temperate and tropical coastal waters. We review the literature to identify major similarities and differences between these two regions, specifically with regards to the impact of environmental factors (temperature, sunlight), riverine inputs, groundwater, lateral fluxes, atmospheric deposition, nitrogen fixation, organic nutrient cycling, primary production, respiration, sedimentary burial, denitrification and anammox. Overall, there are some similarities but also key differences in nutrient cycling, with differences relating mainly to temperature, sunlight, and precipitation amounts and patterns. We conclude that due to the differences in biogeochemical processes, we cannot directly apply cause and effect relationships and models from temperate systems in tropical coastal waters. Our review also highlights the considerable gaps in knowledge of the biogeochemical processes of tropical coastal waters compared with temperate systems. Given the ecological and societal importance of tropical coastal waters, we hope that highlighting the differences and similarities to temperate systems as well as the existing gaps, will inspire further studies on their biogeochemical processes. Such knowledge will be essential to better understand and forecast impacts on tropical coastal nutrient cycling at local, regional, and global scales.


© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Original Publication Citation

Lonborg, C., Muller, M., Butler, E. C. V., Jiang, S., Ooi, S. K., Trinh, D. H., . . . Martin, P. (2021). Nutrient cycling in tropical and temperate coastal waters: Is latitude making a difference? Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 262, Article 107571.


0000-0002-8786-6178 (Yando)