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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 492:57-68 (2013)  -  DOI:

Holo-heterococcolithophore life cycles: ecological implications

Lluïsa Cros*, Marta Estrada

Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Passeig Marítim, 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT: Many coccolithophores have complex life cycles with haploid and diploid stages bearing structurally different coccolith types (holococcoliths and heterococcoliths, respectively). Laboratory studies suggest that holo- and heterococcolithophores may occupy distinct ecological niches, but the potential ecological implications of the existence of haploid and diploid stages are poorly known. We present here a study of holo- and heterococcolithophore distributions in the Catalano-Balearic Sea, during 2 cruises (MESO-96, from 18 June to 3 July, and FRONTS-96, from 16 to 21 September) that covered 2 intervals of the stratification period of 1996. We define a holococcolithophore prevalence index (HOLP index), calculated for each coccolithophore-containing sample, as the percent ratio between the number of holococcolithophores and the total number of holo- and heterococcolithophores belonging to families with alternation of holo- and heterococcolithophore life stages (coccolithophores having HOL-HET life cycles; Total_HHLC). In both cruises, the distribution of holo- and heterococcolithophores and the HOLP index indicated a preference of the holococcolithophores for shallower waters and of the heteroccolithophores for deeper layers. This segregation may be linked to a differentiation of ecological niches, with the haploid holococcolithophores occupying the more oligotrophic upper layers and the diploid heterococcolithophores inhabiting relatively rich deeper waters.

KEY WORDS: Holococcolithophore prevalence index · Haploid-diploid life cycles · Coccolithophores · NW Mediterranean

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Cite this article as: Cros L, Estrada M (2013) Holo-heterococcolithophore life cycles: ecological implications. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 492:57-68.

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