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Ecosystem function and particle flux dynamics across the Mackenzie Shelf (Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean): an integrative analysis of spatial variability and biophysical forcings

AuthorsForest, Alexandre; Ortega-Retuerta, E. ; Martín, Jacobo
Issue DateAug-2012
PublisherEuropean Geosciences Union
CitationBiogeosciences Discussions 9: 10883-10960 (2012)
AbstractA better understanding of how environmental changes affect organic matter fluxes in Arctic marine ecosystems is sorely needed. Here, we combine mooring times-series, ship-based measurements and remote-sensing to assess the variability and forcing factors of vertical fluxes of particulate organic carbon (POC) across the Mackenzie Shelf in 2009. We developed a geospatial model of these fluxes to proceed to an integrative analysis of their biophysical determinants in summer. Flux data were obtained with sediment traps and via a regional empirical algorithm applied to particle size-distributions (17 classes from 0.08–4.2 mm) measured by an Underwater Vision Profiler 5. Redundancy analyses and forward selection of abiotic/biotic parameters, linear trends, and spatial structures (i.e. principal coordinates of neighbor matrices, PCNM), were conducted to partition the variation of POC flux size-classes. Flux variability was explained at 69.5 % by the addition of a linear temporal trend, 7 significant PCNM and 9 biophysical variables. The interaction of all these factors explained 27.8 % of the variability. The first PCNM canonical axis (44.4 % of spatial variance) reflected a shelf-basin gradient controlled by bottom depth and ice concentration (p < 0.01), but a complex assemblage of fine-to-broad scale patterns was also identified. Among biophysical parameters, bacterial production and northeasterly wind (upwelling-favorable) were the two strongest explanatory variables (r2 cum. = 0.37), suggesting that bacteria were associated with sinking material, which was itself partly linked to upwelling-induced productivity. The second most important spatial structure corresponded actually to the two areas where shelf break upwelling is known to occur under easterlies. Copepod biomass was negatively correlated (p < 0.05) with vertical POC fluxes, implying that metazoans played a significant role in the regulation of export fluxes. The low fractal dimension of settling particles (1.26) and the high contribution (~94 %) of fast-sinking small aggregates (<1 mm; 20–30 m d−1) to the mass fluxes suggested that settling material across the region was overall fluffy, porous, and likely resulting from the aggregation of marine detritus, gel-like substances and ballast minerals. Our study demonstrates that vertical POC fluxes in Arctic shelf systems are spatially complex, sensitive to environmental forcings, and determined by both physicochemical mechanisms and food web functioning. In conclusion, we hypothesize that the incorporation of terrestrial matter into the Beaufort Sea food web could be catalyzed by bacteria via the incorporation of dissolved terrestrial carbon liberated through the photo-cleavage and/or hydrolysis of land-derived POC interweaved with marine aggregates
DescriptionA. Forest et al. -- 78 pages, 18 figures, 6 tables
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-9-10883-2012
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