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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 446:91-105 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09500

Mesozooplankton carbon requirement in the Tyrrhenian Sea: its vertical distribution, diel variability and relation to particle flux

Roberta Minutoli*, Letterio Guglielmo

ULR CoNISMa, Department of Animal Biology and Marine Ecology, University of Messina, Viale Ferdinando Stagno d’Alcontres 31, S. Agata, 98166 Messina, Italy

ABSTRACT: Mesozooplankton consumes an important fraction of particulate organic matter sinking down the water column in all oceans. We investigated the vertical distribution (down to 2000 m depth) and diel variability (during a 24 h cycle) of the mesozooplankton carbon requirement (µg C g−1 d−1), estimated by measuring the activity of the electron transport system (ETS), at a fixed station in the open southern Tyrrhenian Sea. To estimate the quantitative role of zooplankton in carbon losses occurring during organic particle sinking, zooplankton carbon demand was compared with organic carbon vertical flux (measured using the 234Th:238U disequilibrium method). Zooplankton abundance, biomass and community composition were also investigated, as were the vertical distribution of diel migrant species and the relative importance of crustaceans and gelatinous taxa. A distinct day-night variation of carbon demand in the upper 300 m of the water column was observed, with the highest values encountered during dark hours. The high values estimated in sunset samples were most likely due to the presence or dominance of the calanoid copepod Pleuromamma gracilis. Mesozooplankton were responsible for 13.2% and 8.8% of carbon losses in the meso- and bathypelagic zones, respectively. These results reflect the trophic status of the southern Tyrrhenian Sea, which is typically less oligotrophic than the central and eastern Mediterranean Sea.


KEY WORDS: Mesozooplankton · Carbon requirement · Electron transport system · Particulate organic carbon sinking flux · POC sinking flux · Tyrrhenian Sea


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Cite this article as: Minutoli R, Guglielmo L (2012) Mesozooplankton carbon requirement in the Tyrrhenian Sea: its vertical distribution, diel variability and relation to particle flux. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 446:91-105. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09500

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