AME 16:53-64 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/ame016053

Temporal and spatial dynamics of the pelagic microbial food web in an atoll lagoon

J. M. González1, J.-P. Torréton2,*, P. Dufour3, L. Charpy3

1Institute of Microbial Studies, La Roza 56, Quintanar de la Sierra, E-09670 Burgos, Spain
2Centre ORSTOM de Tahiti, BP 529 Papeete, French Polynesia
3ORSTOM, Centre d'Océanologie de Marseille, Traverse de la Batterie des Lions, F-13007 Marseille, France
*Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: We examined the influence of diurnal cycle, depth, exchange and proximity to land on the dynamics of microbial populations (bacteria, cyanobacteria, nanoplankton, phagotrophic nanoflagellates, ciliates and dinoflagellates) in Tikehau atoll lagoon (French Polynesia). Microbial populations increased over this 15 d study. Their abundances in the lagoon ranged from 1.2 to 2.6 x 106 bacteria ml-1, 1.1 to 4.0 x 105 cyanobacteria ml-1, 200 to 1090 eukaryotic phytoplankton ml-1, 380 to 1500 phagotrophic nanoflagellates ml-1, 0.3 to 4.0 ciliates ml-1, and 11 to 195 nanodinoflagellates ml-1. Microbial abundances revealed that the intrusion of oceanic water into the lagoon only affected bacterial and cyanobacterial distributions in a narrow band around the lagoon. Grazing rate estimates and population dynamics showed that phagotrophic nanoflagellates were the major grazers of picoplankton (mainly bacteria and cyanobacteria). Cyanobacteria contributed about twice as much as bacteria to this grazed biomass and are therefore supposed to have a higher contribution to the transfer of organic carbon to the upper trophic levels. Hetero- and autotrophic nanoflagellate abundance appeared to be regulated primarily by predators. Ciliates, and perhaps heterotrophic dinoflagellates, appeared to be grazing mostly on nanoplankton, both autotrophic and heterotrophic cells. Autotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellate populations increased at net rates comparable to, or even more rapidly than, other microbial communities; this suggests that dinoflagellates also play a significant role in the lagoon microbial foodweb. Additional aspects of the spatial and temporal variability of the microbial foodweb in Tikehau lagoon, as well as the role of grazers and dinoflagellates, are analyzed.

KEY WORDS: Atoll lagoon · Microbial food web · Grazing · Bacterioplankton · Cyanobacteria · Protists · Dinoflagellates · Ciliates · Nanoflagellates

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