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Coupling between upper ocean layer variability and size-fractionated phytoplankton in a non-nutrient-limited environment

AuthorsSangrà, Pablo; García Muñoz, Cristina ; Lubián, Luis M. ; Estrada-Allis, S.
Vertical mixing
Phytoplankton composition
Physical-biological coupling
Issue DateMar-2014
PublisherInter Research
CitationMarine Ecology - Progress Series 499: 35-46 (2014)
AbstractWe describe the coupling between upper ocean layer variability and size-fractionated phytoplankton distribution in the non-nutrient-limited Bransfield Strait region (BS) of Antarctica. For this purpose we use hydrographic and size-fractionated chlorophyll a data from a transect that crossed 2 fronts and an eddy, together with data from 3 stations located in a deeply mixed region, the Antarctic Sound (AS). In the BS transect, small phytoplankton (<20 μm equivalent spherical diameter [ESD]) accounted for 80% of total chl a and their distribution appeared to be linked to cross-frontal variability. On the deepening upper mixed layer (UML) sides of both fronts we observed a deep subducting column-like structure of small phytoplankton biomass. On the shoaling UML sides of both fronts, where there were signs of restratification, we observed a local shallow maximum of small phytoplankton biomass. We propose that this observed phytoplankton distribution may be a response to the development of frontal vertical circulation cells. In the deep, turbulent environment of the AS, larger phytoplankton (>20 μm ESD) accounted for 80% of total chl a. The proportion of large phytoplankton increases as the depth of the upper mixed layer (ZUML), and the corresponding rate of vertical mixing, increases. We hypothesize that this change in phytoplankton composition with varying ZUML is related to the competition for light, and results from modification of the light regime caused by vertical mixing. © The authors 2014. Open Access under Creative Commons by Attribution Licence.
DescriptionSangrà, Pablo et al.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.3354/meps10668
Identifiersdoi: 10.3354/meps10668
issn: 0171-8630
e-issn: 1616-1599
Appears in Collections:(ICMAN) Artículos
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