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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 652:15-32 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13479

Food-web fluxes support high rates of mesozooplankton respiration and production in the equatorial Pacific

Michael R. Landry1,*, Michael R. Stukel2, Moira Décima3,4

1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, California 92093-0227, USA
2Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32303, USA
3National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Hataitai, Wellington 6022, New Zealand
4Present address: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, California 92093-0227, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We investigated how the network of food-web flows in open-ocean systems might support high rates of mesozooplankton respiration and production by comparing predicted rates from empirical relationships to independently determined solutions from an inverse model based on tightly constrained field-measured rates for the equatorial Pacific. Model results were consistent with estimates of gross:net primary production (GPP:NPP), bacterial production:NPP, sinking particulate export, and total export for the equatorial Pacific, as well as general literature values for growth efficiencies of bacteria, protozooplankton, and metazooplankton. Mean rate estimates from the model compared favorably with the respiration predictions from Ikeda (1985; Mar Biol 85:1-11) (146 vs. 144 mg C m-2 d-1, respectively) and with production estimates from the growth rate equation of Hirst & Sheader (1997; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 154:155-165) (153 vs. 144 mg C m-2 d-1). Metazooplankton nutritional requirements are met with a mixed diet of protozooplankton (39%), phytoplankton (36%), detritus (15%), and carnivory (10%). Within the food-web network, NPP of 896 mg C m-2 d-1 supports a total heterotrophic carbon demand from bacteria, protozoa, and metazooplankton that is 2.5 times higher. Scaling our results to primary production and zooplankton biomass at Stn ALOHA suggests that zooplankton nutritional requirements for high growth might similarly be met in oligotrophic subtropical waters through a less efficient trophic structure. Metazooplankton production available to higher-level consumers is a significant contributor to the total export needed for an overall biogeochemical balance of the region and to export requirements to meet carbon demand in the mesopelagic depth range.


KEY WORDS: Inverse analysis · Trophic fluxes · Feeding · Respiration · Growth rate · Production · Export · Mesopelagic carbon demand


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Cite this article as: Landry MR, Stukel MR, Décima M (2020) Food-web fluxes support high rates of mesozooplankton respiration and production in the equatorial Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 652:15-32. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13479

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