MEPS 443:1-17 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09445

Biometry of detached Emiliania huxleyi coccoliths along the Patagonian Shelf

Alex J. Poulton1,*, Jeremy R. Young2, Nicholas R. Bates3, William M. Balch4

1National Oceanography Centre, Waterfront Campus, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
2University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
3Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, St. George’s GE 01, Bermuda
4Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 180 McKown Point Road, PO Box 475, West Boothbay Harbour, Maine 04575-0475, USA

ABSTRACT: The biometry (morphology, size) of coccoliths of the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi has implications for their calcite content and cellular rates of calcification. We investigated the biometry of detached coccoliths of E. huxleyi in surface waters during the December 2008 ‘Coccolithophores of the Patagonian Shelf (COPAS’08)’ expedition. Two morphotypes of E. huxleyi were abundant along the shelf, although with different distributions: Morphotype A dominated waters on the shelf and at the northern end of the shelf, while Morphotype B/C dominated offshore and within the main coccolithophore bloom. The 2 morphotypes had opposite relationships to environmental variables along the shelf: Morphotype B/C was abundant in cold (<10°C), nutrient-rich (>10 µmol nitrate kg−1) waters with calcite saturation states of ~3.5, whereas Morphotype A was abundant in warm (>10°C), nutrient-poor (0.1 to 10 µmol nitrate kg−1) waters with higher (>4.5) calcite saturation states. These findings support previous suggestions that E. huxleyi morphotypes are distinct ecotypes. Furthermore, we suggest that Morphotype B/C is a Southern Ocean ecotype. Measurements of coccolith distal shield length (total range: 1.8 to 4.4 µm) indicated considerable physiological and/or phenotypic variability along the shelf and within each morphotype. Conversion of distal shield length into estimates of coccolith calcite showed that the E. huxleyi population was producing coccoliths with low median calcite quotas (overall average ± SD, 0.015 ± 0.006 pmol C) relative to other studies of field populations.

KEY WORDS: Emiliania huxleyi · Calcification · Patagonian Shelf · Coccoliths · Morphotypes · COPAS’08

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Cite this article as: Poulton AJ, Young JR, Bates NR, Balch WM (2011) Biometry of detached Emiliania huxleyi coccoliths along the Patagonian Shelf. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 443:1-17

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