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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 644:15-31 (2020)  -  DOI:

Effects of different plankton communities and spring bloom phases on seston C:N:P:Si:chl a ratios in the Baltic Sea

Tobias Lipsewers1,2,*, Riina Klais3, Maria Teresa Camarena-Gómez1,4, Kristian Spilling1

1Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE, Marine Research Centre), 00790 Helsinki, Finland
2Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Ecostat Ltd, 50605 Tartu, Estonia
4Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, 10900 Hanko, Finland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Plankton communities and their temporal development have shifted towards earlier onset of the spring bloom and lower diatom-dinoflagellate proportions in parts of the Baltic Sea. We studied the effects of community composition and spring bloom phases on seston nutrient stoichiometry, revealing possible consequences of these shifts. Community composition, seston C:N:P:Si:chl a ratios, and physiological and environmental variables were determined for 4 research cruises, covering all major sub-basins and bloom phases. A redundancy analysis revealed that temperature and inorganic nutrients were the main drivers of community changes, and high diatom biomass was linked to low temperatures (growth phase). The effects of changing dominance patterns on seston stoichiometry were studied by applying a community ordination (non-metric multidimensional scaling and generalized additive models). C:N:P ratios increased from the growth phase (103:14:1) to the peak phase (144:18:1) and decreased after inorganic nitrogen was depleted (127:17:1). Taxonomic differences explained ~50% of changes in C:Si, N:Si, and chl a:C ratios and <30% for C:P and N:P, whereas C:N was virtually unaffected by the community composition. The fixed chl a:C range (~0.005-0.04) was largely determined by diatoms, independent of the dominant species. Thus, C:Si and N:Si could be used to estimate the share of diatoms to the seston and chl a:C to describe bloom phases and C budgets during spring. Interestingly, mixed communities featured higher C:N:P ratios than diatom-dominated ones. However, as community composition explained <30% of changes in C:N:P, we conclude that these ratios rather represent the total plankton physiology in natural plankton assemblages.

KEY WORDS: Plankton stoichiometry · Diatoms · Dinoflagellates · Heterotrophs · Natural communities · Particulate organic nutrients

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Cite this article as: Lipsewers T, Klais R, Camarena-Gómez MT, Spilling K (2020) Effects of different plankton communities and spring bloom phases on seston C:N:P:Si:chl a ratios in the Baltic Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 644:15-31.

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