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Seasonal and interannual variations in coccolithophore abundance off Terceira Island, Azores (Central North Atlantic)

AutorNarciso, Áurea; Gallo, Francesca; Valente, André; Cachão, Mário; Cros, Lluïsa ; Azevedo, Eduardo Brito de; Barcelos e Ramos, Joana
Palabras claveLiving coccolithophores
Phytoplankton ecology
Azores archipelago
Fecha de publicación1-abr-2016
EditorPergamon Press
CitaciónContinental Shelf Research 117: 43-56 (2016)
ResumenIn order to characterize the natural coccolithophore community occurring offshore Azores and to determine their annual and interannual patterns, monthly samples were collected, from September 2010 to December 2014, in the photic zone off Terceira Island. The present study revealed a clear seasonal distribution and a considerable interannual variability of the living coccolithophore community. The highest coccolithophore abundances were observed during spring and winter months, especially due to the smaller species Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa ericsonii. In fact, the highest biomass period was registered during April 2011, associated with enhanced abundance of the overcalcified morphotype of E. huxleyi, which was possibly influenced by subpolar waters and subsequent upwelling conditions. The highest abundances of Gephyrocapsa muellerae were recorded during June 2011 and 2014, indicating that this species characterizes the transition between the period of maximum productivity and the subsequent smoother environmental conditions, the first and the later stages of the phytoplankton succession described by Margalef, respectively. During summer to early fall, a gradual decrease of the overall coccolithophore abundance was observed, while the species richness (Margalef diversity index) increased. A subtropical coccolithophore assemblage mainly composed by Umbellosphaera tenuis, Syracosphaera spp., Discosphaera tubifera, Rhabdosphaera clavigera and Coronosphaera mediterranea indicated the presence of surface warmer waters accompanied by reduced mixing and low nutrients concentration. During late fall to winter, the coccolithophore abundance increased again with a concomitant reduction in species diversity. This is potentially linked to low sea surface temperatures, moderate nutrients concentration and surface mixed layer deepening. During 2011, colder and productive waters led to an increase in the total coccolithophore abundances. On contrary, during 2012, characterized by milder environmental conditions, an increase in the diversity of the community was prevalent. The noticeably coccolithophore response to variations in the main physical variables and on main traditional nutrients corroborates the importance of this group as proxy of marine environmental conditions in the past
Descripción14 pages, 7 figures, 6 tables, 2 appendixes
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2016.01.019
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1016/j.csr.2016.01.019
issn: 0278-4343
e-issn: 1873-6955
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