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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 409:77-94 (2010)  -  DOI:

Planktonic production and carbon transfer efficiency along a north–south gradient in the Baltic Sea

Kristin Dahlgren1,2,*, Agneta Andersson1,2, Ulf Larsson3, Susanna Hajdu3, Ulf Båmstedt1,2

1Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå University, 90187 Umeå, Sweden
2Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, 91020 Hörnefors, Sweden
3Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden

ABSTRACT: A 1 yr study was conducted along a brackish-water production gradient to enhance the understanding of factors governing pelagic food web function. This was achieved by measuring carbon transfer efficiency (TE) from the basal resource to an intermediate trophic level. TE was defined as mesozooplankton carbon consumption rate divided by production at the basal trophic level, which is composed of phytoplankton and bacteria. A north–south transect in the Baltic Sea was used as a model system, with 2 stations each in the Bothnian Bay, Bothnian Sea and Baltic Proper being sampled 5 to 8× during 2006. In addition, data from monitoring programmes were used, which comprised 10 to 22 samplings stn–1. TE was expected to be governed by the size distribution of phytoplankton and due to the nutrient gradient, we expected to find an optimal cell size, and thus also a high TE, in the intermediate-productive Bothnian Sea. The basal production during summer/autumn increased 5-fold from north to south, while the mesozooplankton carbon consumption rate exhibited a peak in the Bothnian Sea, being ~3× higher than in both Bothnian Bay and Baltic Proper. TE was found to be intermediate in the Bothnian Bay (average: 0.8), highest in the Bothnian Sea (1.6), and lowest in the Baltic Proper (0.2). We suggest that the variation in carbon transfer efficiency can be explained by the composition of the phytoplankton community, the abundance balance between copepods and cladocerans, as well as the species composition of mesozooplankton in relation to the size structure of phytoplankton.

KEY WORDS: Carbon transfer efficiency · Pelagic production · Mesozooplankton · Baltic Sea

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Cite this article as: Dahlgren K, Andersson A, Larsson U, Hajdu S, Båmstedt U (2010) Planktonic production and carbon transfer efficiency along a north–south gradient in the Baltic Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 409:77-94.

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