MEPS 513:39-50 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10937

Progressive decoupling between phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing during an iron-induced phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean (EIFEX)

Mikel Latasa1,2,*, Joachim Henjes3, Renate Scharek1, Philipp Assmy4,5, Rüdiger Röttgers6, Victor Smetacek4

1Centro Oceanográfico de Gijón/Xixón (IEO), Avda. Príncipe de Asturias, 70 Bis, 33212 Gijón/Xixón, Spain
2Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
3IMARE—Institute for Marine Resources GmbH, Bussestrasse 27, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
4Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
5Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Hjalmar Johansens gt. 14, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
6Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials and Coastal Research, Max-Planck-Str. 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Dilution experiments were performed to quantify growth and mortality rates of phytoplankton groups (as defined by pigment markers) for 5 wk in an iron-induced phytoplankton bloom during the European Iron Fertilization Experiment (EIFEX) conducted in the Southern Ocean. Rates could be reliably measured for the 2 main groups, diatoms and prymnesiophytes. Mean phytoplankton intrinsic growth rates were around 0.23 d-1, without a significant temporal trend. Mortality rates, however, decreased with time (from ~0.3 to ~0.06 d-1), leading to an increase in decoupling between phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing. The decrease in grazing was correlated with the decrease in concentrations of small microprotozooplankton (<60 µm). As a consequence, net growth in the dilution experiments increased from around 0 d-1 up to 0.13 d-1 in the last days of the experiment, 35 d after the initial iron fertilization. This pattern did not reflect the dynamics of net phytoplankton accumulation in the fertilized patch, which increased until Days 24 to 27 and decreased thereafter. The difference between experimental and natural phytoplankton net growth is the biomass that escapes microzooplankton grazing and does not accumulate in the surface mixed layer, i.e. the biomass that went to higher trophic levels plus that exported out of the mixed layer. It increased throughout EIFEX and suggests a shift from a predominantly recycling system towards a more exporting one.


KEY WORDS: Microzooplankton grazing · Iron fertilization · C export · Photoacclimation · HPLC pigments · Flow cytometry · Dilution experiments · Top-down control


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Cite this article as: Latasa M, Henjes J, Scharek R, Assmy P, Röttgers R, Smetacek V (2014) Progressive decoupling between phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing during an iron-induced phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean (EIFEX). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 513:39-50. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10937

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