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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 12:263-273 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/ame012263

Trophic interactions between picophytoplankton and micro- and nanozooplankton in the western Arabian Sea during the NE monsoon 1993

Reckermann M, Veldhuis MJW

The grazing pressure of micro- and nanozooplankton on phytoplankton was estimated in serial dilution experiments in the northwestern Arabian Sea and its adjacent areas (the Somali Current, the Somali Basin, the Gulf of Aden and the southern Red Sea) during the NE monsoon 1992-1993. Microzooplankton grazing rates (g) on total phytoplankton (analyzed as chl a) were generally exceeded by phytoplankton growth rates (g = 0.2 to 1.19 d-1, mean 0.48 d-1; μ = 0.52 to 1.12 d-1, mean 0.72 d-1), resulting in an average daily consumption of 38% of the phytoplankton standing stock and 67% of the primary production. Microzooplankton grazing on 4 picophytoplankton groups (Prochlorococcus spp., Synechococcus spp., and 2 picoeukaryotes) analyzed by flow cytometry showed growth (μ = 0.27 to 0.92 d-1, mean 0.68 d-1) and grazing mortality rates (g = 0.26 to 0.73 d-1, mean 0.67 d-1) well in balance, with an average of 49% of the standing stock and 102% of the primary production grazed per day. Picophytoplankton growth and grazing mortality rates increased dramatically when grazers >10 μm were removed. These results suggest a control of the small grazers by larger ones (trophic cascade) and a close coupling between picoautotrophic prey and small grazers. The trophic cascade within the microbial food web of the nanoplankton encompasses 3 trophic levels: picoplankton - small HNF - larger flagellates and ciliates.

Grazing · Picophytoplankton · Prochlorococcus · Synechococcus · Picoeukaryotes · Flow cytometry · Arabian Sea · Trophic cascade

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