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Title: Mesoscale variability modulates seasonal changes in the trophic structure of nano - and picoplankton communities across the NW Africa-Canary Islands transition zone
Authors: Baltar, Federico
Arístegui, Javier 
Montero, María F. 
Espino, Minerva 
Gasol, Josep M.
Herndl, Gerhard J.
UNESCO Clasification: 251001 Oceanografía biológica
Keywords: Trophic function
Spatial variability
NW Africa-Canary Islands
Issue Date: 2009
Journal: Progress in Oceanography 
Abstract: The variability of picoplankton and nanoplankton autotrophic (A) and heterotrophic (H) communities was studied along a zonal gradient extending from the NW African shelf to 500 km offshore in two contrasting seasons of the year: early spring (spring) and summer (summer). Plankton abundance was significantly higher in summer than in spring. In particular, heterotrophic prokaryotes (HP) and Prochlorococcus (Proc) were an order of magnitude more abundant in summer, presumably due to a higher loading of dissolved organic matter and higher temperatures. The average ratio of A to H biomass was lower during the summer. Over the African shelf, picoplankton was lowest during summer, while both the autotrophic and heterotrophic nanoflagellates (ANF and HNF) showed the highest abundances. In contrast, in spring, the highest abundance of Picoeukaryotes (PE) and Synechococcus (Syn) was found over or close to the shelf. The offshore sampling sections intersected a complex area of strong mesoscale variability, which affected the plankton distribution. In summer, the entrainment of an upwelling filament around a cyclonic eddy provoked the increase of HP and Syn abundances by about one order of magnitude over the surrounding waters, while PE were more abundant over the core of the eddy (probably due to nutrient pumping). In spring, HP and Syn were more abundant at the boundaries of an anticyclonic eddy and in the filament (where PE also increased). Proc abundance increased up to one order of magnitude in the core of the eddy and in the eddy-oceanic waters front. ANF and HNF showed the highest abundances in the filament and the eddy. In summary, although seasonality affects the background variability in microplankton communities, the mesoscale variability found in the Canary Islands transition zone strongly modulates the patterns of distribution, abundances and changes in community structure, altering the A to H ratio and concomitantly playing a key role modifying the carbon pathways within the food web in the region.
ISSN: 0079-6611
DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2009.07.016
Source: Progress in Oceanography [ISSN 0079-6611], v. 83 (1-4), p. 180-188
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