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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 21:275-287 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/ame021275

Primary production in the upper sea ice

Diane K. Stoecker*, Daniel E. Gustafson, Christine T. Baier**, Megan M. D. Black***

Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613-0775, USA
*E-mail: Present addresses: **National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA ***National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Southeast Fisheries Center, 101 Pivers Island Rd, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

ABSTRACT: Observations and experiments were conducted on fast ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, to investigate seasonal changes in primary production in the upper sea ice interior. In November and early December 1995, a dense phytoflagellate assemblage developed in the brine channels and pockets at a snow-free site. Primary production was calculated from 14C measurements of primary productivity in brine samples combined with estimates of the proportion of the ice volume occupied by brine. On 4 December 1995, when the dinoflagellate Polarella glacialis dominated, estimated daily production peaked at 12.4 mg C m-2 in the upper 50 cm of ice. On this date, brine temperature was ~-3°C and brine salinity was ~60. By mid-December, daily production declined by 77%, but chlorophyll-specific rates of photosynthesis remained high. The decline in production coincided with encystment of P. glacialis and nutrient depletion, the former triggered by the latter. Primary production continued to decrease during December and January. On 9 January 1996, when ice temperatures were ~-1°C and brine salinity was ~20, there was a brief bloom of small pennate diatoms in the upper ice interior, but chlorophyll-specific rates of photosynthesis were low and estimated daily production was <1 mg C m-2. Based on 14C uptake and brine volume, algal production in the upper 50 cm of sea ice was 181 mg C m-2 for the season (mid-November through mid-January). Increases in phytoflagellate biomass in the upper 90 cm of ice for this same period indicated that production was >256 mg C m-2. Brief early season blooms of cryo- and halo-tolerant phytoflagellates accounted for most of the primary production in the upper sea ice interior.

KEY WORDS: Sea ice · Antarctica · McMurdo Sound · Ice algae · Cysts · Hypnozygotes · Dinoflagellates · Polarella · Diatoms · Chrysophytes · Primary productivity

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