MEPS 144:211-221 (1996)  -  doi:10.3354/meps144211

Impact of phytoplankton bloom magnitude on a pelagic microbial food web

Brussaard CPD, Gast GJ, van Duyl FC, Riegman R

The impact of phytoplankton bloom magnitude on the microbial food web of the Dutch pelagic coastal zone (Southern Bight of the North Sea) was studied during spring 1993. Data were compared to a study carried out in 1992 at the same location. Light availability and temperature were the key factors for the timing of the diatom spring bloom. Specific algal cell lysis rates during the diatom bloom were always <0.1 d-1. Due to sinking of the diatoms no effect of the difference in bloom magnitude between the 2 years on the pelagic microbial food web was detected. A high onset level of nitrate (55 µM) resulted in a dense bloom of the colonial Phaeocystis, with maximum cell numbers of 1.8 x 108 cells l-1. During the development of the bloom, the pH of the seawater increased from 7.9 to 8.7. The bloom of Phaeocystis declined through cell lysis (up to 0.3 d-1). Due to the enhanced biomass of Phaeocystis the amounts of released algal cellular carbon were high (up to 400 µg C l-1 d-1). Differences in Phaeocystis bloom magnitude were, as a consequence of algal cell lysis, reflected in bacterial production (up to 90 µg C l-1 d-1 in 1993) and grazing activity of members of the microbial food web. The elevated importance of the microbial food web resulted in a high standing stock of microzooplankton (850 µg C l-1) and accumulation of regenerated inorganic nutrients. Calculations on both carbon and nitrogen budgets indicate that most of the Phaeocystis bloom was mineralized within the water column.


Phytoplankton bloom magnitude · Diatoms · Phaeocystis · Cell lysis · Bacterial production · Microbial food web · Mineralization


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