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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 543:1-19 (2016)  -  DOI:

Nutrient supply controls picoplankton community structure during three contrasting seasons in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea

Beatriz Mouriño-Carballido1,*, Elena Hojas1, Pedro Cermeño2, Paloma Chouciño1, Bieito Fernández-Castro1, Mikel Latasa3, Emilio Marañón1, Xosé Anxelu G. Morán3,4, Montserrat Vidal5

1Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo, 36310 Vigo (Ponteverdra), Spain
2Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta, 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
3Centro Oceanográfico de Xixón, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Avda. Príncipe de Asturias, 70 bis - 33212 Xixón, Spain
4King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
5Departament d’Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal, 643, Edifici Margalef, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We investigated the influence of ocean mixing and nutrient supply dynamics on picoplankton community composition in the context of Margalef’s Mandala (Margalef 1978). Simultaneous measurements of microturbulence, nutrient concentration, and autotrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton properties, were collected during 3 cruises carried out in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea in March (F1), April/May (F2) and September (F3) 2009. The 3 cruises sampled different oceanographic conditions, starting with early stages of the late winter-early spring bloom, followed by the late stage of the bloom, and finally summer stratification. As a result of the variability in vertical diffusivity and the nitrate gradient across the nitracline, nitrate vertical fluxes were higher during F1 (23 ± 35 mmol m-2 d-1), compared to F2 (0.4 ± 0.2 mmol m-2 d-1) and F3 (0.09 ± 0.09 mmol m-2 d-1). Prochlorococcus abundance was low when nitrate supply was high, Synechococcus exhibited the highest abundances at intermediate levels of nitrate supply and highest irradiance during F2, and large and small picoeukaryotic groups increased their abundance under high nutrient supply in F1. No significant relationships between the abundance of high and low nucleic acid heterotrophic bacteria and nitrate supply were found. In agreement with Margalef’s model, our results show different responses of picophytoplankton groups to nitrate supply (probably reflecting differences in nutrient uptake abilities), and that the ratio of prokaryotic to picoeukaryotic photoautotrophic biomass decreases with increasing nitrate supply.

KEY WORDS: Turbulence · Nutrient supply · Margalef’s Mandala · Picoplankton · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Mouriño-Carballido B, Hojas E, Cermeño P, Chouciño P and others (2016) Nutrient supply controls picoplankton community structure during three contrasting seasons in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 543:1-19.

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