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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 502:25-37 (2014)  -  DOI:

Large-scale season-dependent effects of temperature and zooplankton on phytoplankton in the North Atlantic

Jianfeng Feng1,*, Leif Chr. Stige2, Joël Marcel Durant2, Dag Olav Hessen2, Lin Zhu1, Dag Øystein Hjermann2,3, Marcos Llope4, Nils Chr. Stenseth2,5,6

1Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria at Ministry of Education, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, PR China
2Centre of Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
3Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
4Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Cádiz, Puerto Pesquero, Muelle de Levante s/n, PO Box 2609,
11006 Cádiz, Andalucía, Spain
5Institute of Marine Research, Department of Coastal Zone Studies, Flødevigen Research Station, 4817 His, Norway
6University of Agder, PO Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We analyzed 13 yr of monthly time series (1998 to 2010) of satellite-derived chlorophyll, sea-surface temperature and zooplankton abundance (copepod taxa from continuous plankton recorder surveys) in order to better understand the ecological processes that regulate the seasonal phytoplankton dynamics in different regions of the North Atlantic Ocean. Results showed large-scale, seasonally varying effects of temperature and zooplankton abundance on chlorophyll concentration. Specifically, we found positive temperature effects in most of the regions, which tended to be most pronounced in spring and early summer, especially in the warmer water regions. The situation changed in late summer (mostly July to September), when we detected a negative correlation between chlorophyll concentration and the abundance of copepod nauplii, suggesting top-down control by grazing when phytoplankton generally suffer nutrient limitation and low growth rate. Our results demonstrate that both physical (bottom-up) effects and zooplankton (top-down) effects alternate to shape the seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton in the North Atlantic.

KEY WORDS: Trophic control · Seasonal patterns · Sea-surface temperature · Plankton · Top‑down · Bottom-up · Generalized additive models

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Cite this article as: Feng J, Stige LC, Durant JM, Hessen DO and others (2014) Large-scale season-dependent effects of temperature and zooplankton on phytoplankton in the North Atlantic. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 502:25-37.

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