MEPS 352:9-16 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07182

Consequences of increased temperature and CO2 for phytoplankton community structure in the Bering Sea

Clinton E. Hare1, Karine Leblanc1,2, Giacomo R. DiTullio3,4, Raphael M. Kudela5, Yaohong Zhang1, Peter A. Lee3, Sarah Riseman3, David A. Hutchins1,6,*

1College of Marine and Earth Studies, University of Delaware, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes, Delaware 19958, USA
2CNRS–Laboratoire d’Océanographie et de Biogéochimie (UMR 6535), OSU/COM, Campus de Luminy, Case 901, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France
3Hollings Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston, 331 Fort Johnson, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
4Grice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston, 205 Fort Johnson, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
5Ocean Sciences Department, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA
6Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, California 90089, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is predicted to have large effects on the ocean that could cause shifts in current algal community structure, major nutrient cycles, and carbon export. The Bering Sea is already experiencing changes in sea surface temperature (SST), unprecedented algal blooms, and alterations to trophic level dynamics. We incubated phytoplankton communities from 2 Bering Sea regimes under conditions of elevated SST and/or partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) similar to predicted values for 2100. In our ‘greenhouse ocean’ simulations, maximum biomass-normalized photosynthetic rates increased 2.6 to 3.5 times and community composition shifted away from diatoms and towards nanophytoplankton. These changes were driven largely by elevated temperature, with secondary effects from increased pCO2. If these results are indicative of future climate responses, community shifts towards nanophytoplankton dominance could reduce the ability of the Bering Sea to maintain the productive diatom-based food webs that currently support one of the world’s most productive fisheries.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton dynamics · Carbon dioxide · Temperature · Community structure · Bering Sea · Continuous culture


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Cite this article as: Hare CE, Leblanc K, DiTullio GR, Kudela RM and others (2007) Consequences of increased temperature and CO2 for phytoplankton community structure in the Bering Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 352:9-16

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