MEPS 411:49-60 (2010) - doi:10.3354/meps08647
Increased irradiance reduces food quality of sea ice algae
E. Leu1,*, J. Wiktor2, J. E. Søreide3, J. Berge3,4, S. Falk-Petersen1,5
ABSTRACT: The accelerating decrease of Arctic sea ice substantially changes the growth conditions for primary producers, particularly with respect to light. This affects the biochemical composition of sea ice algae, which are an essential high-quality food source for herbivores early in the season. Their high nutritional value is related to their content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which play an important role for successful maturation, egg production, hatching and nauplii development in grazers. We followed the fatty acid composition of an assemblage of sea ice algae in a high Arctic fjord during spring from the early bloom stage to post bloom. Light conditions proved to be decisive in determining the nutritional quality of sea ice algae, and irradiance was negatively correlated with the relative amount of PUFAs. Algal PUFA content decreased on average by 40% from April to June, while algal biomass (measured as particulate carbon, C) did not differ. This decrease was even more pronounced when algae were exposed to higher irradiances due to reduced snow cover. The ratio of chlorophyll a (chl a) to C, as well as the level of photoprotective pigments, confirmed a physiological adaptation to higher light levels in algae of poorer nutritional quality. We conclude that high irradiances are detrimental to sea ice algal food quality, and that the biochemical composition of sea ice algae is strongly dependent on growth conditions.
KEY WORDS: Fatty acid composition · PUFA · Ice algae · Irradiance · Arctic · Diatom · Stable isotopes
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Cite this article as: Leu E, Wiktor J, Søreide JE, Berge J, Falk-Petersen S (2010) Increased irradiance reduces food quality of sea ice algae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 411:49-60