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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 383:73-84 (2009)  -  DOI:

Carbon-to-chlorophyll ratio and growth rate of phytoplankton in the sea

Shubha Sathyendranath1,2,*, Venetia Stuart2, Anitha Nair2, Kenji Oka3, Toru Nakane4, Heather Bouman5, Marie-Hélène Forget2, Heidi Maass6, Trevor Platt1,6

1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
2Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
3Marine Biological Research Institute of Japan Co. Ltd., 4–3–16, Yutaka-cho, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142, Japan
4Science and Technology Co. Ltd., R-Bldg, 1–8–12 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 140–0001, Japan
5Oxford University, Earth Sciences, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PR, UK
6Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 4A2, Canada

ABSTRACT: Observations from offshore regions (NW Atlantic and Arabian Sea) and from a semi-enclosed bay (Tokyo Bay) were used to study the relationships between chlorophyll and particulate carbon in the sea. A simple conceptual model was then developed to infer in situ phytoplankton carbon as a function of chlorophyll a. This allowed indirect estimates of the carbon-to-chlorophyll ratio of phytoplankton in the sea. Using data from high-performance liquid chromatography, field samples dominated by diatoms, dinoflagellates, green algae, prymnesiophytes and cyanobacteria were identified, and their carbon-to-chlorophyll ratios were established. The computations yielded conservative estimates for the ratio (15 to 176 weight:weight). The results were applied to satellite data to map the carbon-to-chlorophyll ratios in the NW Atlantic. Since methods were already in place to estimate photosynthesis–irradiance parameters for the region by remote sensing (Platt et al. 2008), we showed that it was possible, using remote sensing, to compute carbon-based phytoplankton growth rates by making use of the existing information on photosynthesis–irradiance parameters and carbon-to-chlorophyll ratios. The method makes it possible to compute primary production by using either carbon-based growth models or photosynthesis–irradiance models in ways that are fully comparable with each other.

KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Particulate carbon · Carbon-to-chlorophyll ratio · Growth rates · Photosynthesis–Irradiance parameters · Functional types · Remote sensing · Ocean colour

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Cite this article as: Sathyendranath S, Stuart V, Nair A, Oka K and others (2009) Carbon-to-chlorophyll ratio and growth rate of phytoplankton in the sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 383:73-84.

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