Phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing in the subtropical Northeast Atlantic.

Research paper by Carlos C Cáceres, Fernando González FG Taboada, Juan J Höfer, Ricardo R Anadón

Indexed on: 13 Aug '13Published on: 13 Aug '13Published in: PloS one


Dilution experiments were performed to estimate phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing rates during two Lagrangian surveys in inner and eastern locations of the Eastern North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre province (NAST-E). Our design included two phytoplankton size fractions (0.2-5 µm and >5 µm) and five depths, allowing us to characterize differences in growth and grazing rates between size fractions and depths, as well as to estimate vertically integrated measurements. Phytoplankton growth rates were high (0.11-1.60 d(-1)), especially in the case of the large fraction. Grazing rates were also high (0.15-1.29 d(-1)), suggesting high turnover rates within the phytoplankton community. The integrated balances between phytoplankton growth and grazing losses were close to zero, although deviations were detected at several depths. Also, O2 supersaturation was observed up to 110 m depth during both Lagrangian surveys. These results add up to increased evidence indicating an autotrophic metabolic balance in oceanic subtropical gyres.