Inter-Research > MEPS > v666 > p31-55  
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 666:31-55 (2021)  -  DOI:

Arctic sea ice algae differ markedly from phytoplankton in their ecophysiological characteristics

Ane Cecilie Kvernvik1,*, Clara Jule Marie Hoppe2, Michael Greenacre3, Sander Verbiest4, Jozef Maria Wiktor5, Tove M. Gabrielsen1,6, Marit Reigstad7, Eva Leu8

1The Department of Arctic Biology, University Centre in Svalbard, Svalbard Science Centre, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
2Marine Biogeoscience, Alfred Wegener Institut - Helmholtzzentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
3Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
4Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3584 CB, The Netherlands
5Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 81-712 Sopot, Poland
6Centre for Coastal Research, University of Agder, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway
7Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
8Arctic R&D, Akvaplan-niva AS, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Photophysiological and biochemical characteristics were investigated in natural communities of Arctic sea ice algae and phytoplankton to understand their respective responses towards variable irradiance and nutrient regimes. This study revealed large differences in photosynthetic efficiency and capacity between the 2 types of algal assemblages. Sea ice algal assemblages clearly displayed increased photoprotective energy dissipation under the highest daily average irradiance levels (>8 µmol photons m-2 s-1). In contrast, phytoplankton assemblages were generally light-limited within the same irradiance ranges. Furthermore, phytoplankton assemblages exhibited more efficient carbon assimilation rates in the low irradiance range compared to sea ice algae, possibly explaining the ability of phytoplankton to generate substantial under-ice blooms. They were also able to readily adjust and increase their carbon production to higher irradiances. The Arctic is warming more rapidly than any other oceanic region on the planet, and as a consequence, irradiance levels experienced by microalgae are expected to increase due to declining ice thickness and snow cover, as well as enhanced stratification. The results of this study suggest that sea ice algae may have less capacity to adapt to the expected environmental changes compared to phytoplankton. We therefore anticipate a change in sea ice-based vs. pelagic primary production with respect to timing and quantity in a future Arctic. The clearly distinct responses of sea ice algae vs. phytoplankton need to be incorporated into model scenarios of current and future Arctic algal blooms and considered when predicting implications for the entire ecosystem and associated biogeochemical fluxes.

KEY WORDS: Sea ice algae · Phytoplankton · Photoacclimation · Carbon fixation · Light · Nitrate · Primary production · Climate change

Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material
Cite this article as: Kvernvik AC, Hoppe CJM, Greenacre M, Verbiest S and others (2021) Arctic sea ice algae differ markedly from phytoplankton in their ecophysiological characteristics. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 666:31-55.

Export citation
Share:    Facebook - - linkedIn

 Previous article Next article