Size-fractionated phytoplankton biomass and primary production in the Southern Ocean

Balarin, Marianne G (1999) Size-fractionated phytoplankton biomass and primary production in the Southern Ocean. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The factors controlling primary production in the Southern Ocean were investigated over two years during two cruises of the South African National Antarctic Program (SANAP). The first cruise was conducted to the region of the eastern Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean during the collaborative Scandinavian/South African Antarctic expedition conducted in austral summer (DecemberIFebruary) 1997-1998. Production studies were conducted in the vicinity of the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ), Interfrontal Zone (IFZ) and Antarctic Polar Front(APF). The second cruise was conducted during the Third Marion Island Oceanographic Survey (MIOS III) to the region of the Sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands in austral autumn (April/May) 1998. Size-fractionated production rates were estimated by 14C incorporation using standard JGOFS protocols. Oceanographic data from the first cruise suggest that the three regions can be divided into two distinct regimes. Stations occupied in the vicinity of the MIZ and the APF were characterised by a shallow mixed layer depth « 40m) while at the IFZ-stations, the mixed layer depth exceeded the 1% light depth. Microphytoplankton dominated integrated chlorophyll-a biomass in the MIZ (total chlorophyll a ranged between 15.4 and 41.3 mg Chi-a. m-2) and at the APF (range between 10.7 and 31.4 mg Chi-a. m-2) , comprising > 50% of total chlorophyll-a at all these stations. Xl Within the IFZ (2 stations), nanophytoplankton dominated total integrated Chl-a biomass (range between 5.6 and 8.8 mg Chi-a. m-2) comprising, on average, 36% of the total. Picophytoplankton comprised an average of 12% of the total Chl-a biomass (range between 3.1 and 5.9 mg Chi-a. m-2) in the MIZ, 36% in the IFZ (range between 6.4 and 7.8 mg Chl-a . m-2) and 20% in the vicinity of the APF (range between 6.8 and 10.6 mg Chi-a. m-2). Total integrated primary production ranged between 316 and 729 mg C . m-2. d-1 at stations occupied in the vicinity of the MIZ, and between 292 and 317 mg C . m·2• d-l within the IFZ. At stations occupied in the region of the APF, total integrated production ranged between 708 and 926 mg C . m-2• dol. The contribution of various size fractions to total productivity generally displayed the same pattern as integrated Chl-a biomass. Microphytoplankton formed the most important contributor to total production at stations occupied in the MIZ and at the APF. Within the IFZ, nanophytoplankton dominated total daily production. Nutrient data suggest that concentrations of macro nutrients within the upper water column were above the threshold where growth would be limited. Preliminary results showed that concentrations of iron (Fe) were highest in the southern region of the MIZ and in the vicinity of the APF. During the second cruise, conducted in the vicinity of the Sub-Antarctic Front (SAF) and in the upstream, inter-island and downstream regions of the Prince Edward Islands, there was evidence of fresh water run-off from the islands, (i.e. decreased salinities and increased concentrations of ammonia and nitrate). Oceanographic data collected at the various production stations indicated that the upper water column was well mixed throughout the survey. Total integrated biomass during the study ranged between 8.5 and 20.1 mg Chi-a. m-2• No distinct patterns in total Chl-a biomass were evident. Picophytoplankton dominated total biomass comprising> 45 % of total pigment at all stations. Nanophytoplankton were the second most important contributor to total integrated biomass. Generally xu microphytoplankton contributed < 10 % of total ChI-a. Total daily integrated production was highest (442.6 mg Chi-a. m-2) at the single station occupied in the vicinity of the SAF. Outside this region, total areal production was lower, ranging from 94.5 to 353.0 mg C . m-2. d-1. With the exception of the station occupied in the vicinity of the SAF, total productivity was dominated by nanophytoplankton, which comprised between 48 and 66% of the total. Concentrations of macronutrients did not appear to be limiting to phytoplankton growth. The absence of a phytoplankton bloom in the vicinity of the islands appears to have been related to water column stability, which was influenced by the prevailing oceanographic regime during the survey. Previous studies have shown that when the SAF lies in close proximity to the islands, advecting forces prevail, resulting in the islands functioning as a flow-through system. During this study, the SAF lay immediately north of the islands. As a consequence no water was trapped in the leeward side of the islands. The results of the two cruises suggest that phytoplankton production in the four systems investigated: the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ), Antarctic Polar Front (APF), Inter Frontal Zone (IFZ) and Prince Edward Islands (PEl), was largely controlled by water column stability. It is probable that the availability of iron, particularly in the region of the MIZ and APF, may have further contributed to the elevated production recorded in these two regions.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biomass, Analysis, Primary production, Factors, Nanophytoplankton, Phytoplankton, Picophytoplankton, Microphytoplankton, Atlantic Ocean, SANAP,
Subjects:Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
ID Code:2839
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:22 May 2012 09:08
Last Modified:22 May 2012 09:08
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