128,500 research outputs found

    Sustenance of phytoplankton in the subpolar North Atlantic during the winter through patchiness

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    This study investigates the influence of two factors that change the mixed layer depth and can potentially contribute to the phytoplankton sustenance over winter: 1) variability of air-sea fluxes and 2) three-dimensional processes arising from strong fronts. To study the role of these factors, we perform several three-dimensional numerical simulations forced with air-sea fluxes at different temporal averaging frequencies as well as different spatial resolutions. Results show that in the winter, when the average mixed layer is much deeper than the euphotic layer and the days are short, phytoplankton production is relatively insensitive to the high-frequency variability in air-sea fluxes. The duration of upper ocean stratification due to high-frequency variability in air-sea fluxes is short and hence has a small impact on phytoplankton production. On the other hand, slumping of fronts creates patchy, stratified, shallow regions that persist considerably longer than stratification caused by changes in air-sea fluxes. Simulations show that before spring warming, the average MLD with fronts is about 700 m shallower than the average MLD without fronts. Therefore, fronts increase the residence time of phytoplankton in the euphotic layer and contribute to phytoplankton growth. Results show that before the spring warming, the depth-integrated phytoplankton concentration is about twice as large as phytoplankton concentration when there are no fronts. Hence, fronts are important for setting the MLD and sustaining phytoplankton in the winter. Model results also show that higher numerical resolution leads to stronger restratification, shallower mixed layers, greater variability in the MLD and higher production of phytoplankton

    Phytoplankton assemblage characteristics in recurrently fluctuating environments

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    Annual variations in biogeochemical and physical processes can lead to nutrient variability and seasonal patterns in phytoplankton productivity and assemblage structure. In many coastal systems river inflow and water exchange with the ocean varies seasonally, and alternating periods can arise where the nutrient most limiting to phytoplankton growth switches. Transitions between these alternating periods can be sudden or gradual and this depends on human activities, such as reservoir construction and interbasin water transfers. How such activities might influence phytoplankton assemblages is largely unknown. Here, we employed a multispecies, multi-nutrient model to explore how nutrient loading switching mode might affect characteristics of phytoplankton assemblages. The model is based on the Monod-relationship, predicting an instantaneous growth rate from ambient inorganic nutrient concentrations whereas the limiting nutrient at any given time was determined by Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. Our simulated phytoplankton assemblages self-organized from species rich pools over a 15-year period, and only the surviving species were considered as assemblage members. Using the model, we explored the interactive effects of complementarity level in trait trade-offs within phytoplankton assemblages and the amount of noise in the resource supply concentrations. We found that the effect of shift from a sudden resource supply transition to a gradual one, as observed in systems impacted by watershed development, was dependent on the level of complementarity. In the extremes, phytoplankton species richness and relative overyielding increased when complementarity was lowest, and phytoplankton biomass increased greatly when complementarity was highest. For low-complementarity simulations, the persistence of poorer-performing phytoplankton species of intermediate R*s led to higher richness and relative overyielding. For high-complementarity simulations, the formation of phytoplankton species clusters and niche compression enabled higher biomass accumulation. Our findings suggest that an understanding of factors influencing the emergence of life history traits important to complementarity is necessary to predict the impact of watershed development on phytoplankton productivity and assemblage structure

    Toxin-allelopathy among phytoplankton species prevents competitive exclusion

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    Toxic or allelopathic compounds liberated by toxin-producing phytoplankton (TPP) acts as a strong mediator in plankton dynamics. On an analysis of a set of phytoplankton biomass-data that have been collected by our group in the North-West part of the Bay of Bengal, and by analysis of a three-component mathematical model under a constant as well as a stochastic environment, we explore the role of toxin-allelopathy in determining the dynamic behaviour of the competing-phytoplankton species. The overall results, based on analytical and numerical wings, demonstrate that toxin-allelopathy due to the toxin-producing phytoplankton (TPP) promotes a stable coexistence of those competitive phytoplankton that would otherwise exhibit competitive exclusion of the weak species. Our study suggests that TPP might be a potential candidate for maintaining the coexistence and diversity of competing phytoplankton species.Comment: 29 pages, 6 figures, Journal Pape

    Omnivory by planktivores stabilizes plankton dynamics, but may either promote or reduce algal biomass

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    Classical models of phytoplankton–zooplankton interaction show that with nutrient enrichment such systems may abruptly shift from limit cycles to stable phytoplankton domination due to zooplankton predation by planktivorous fish. Such models assume that planktivorous fish eat only zooplankton, but there are various species of filter-feeding fish that may also feed on phytoplankton. Here, we extend these classical models to systematically explore the effects of omnivory by planktivorous fish. Our analysis indicates that if fish forage on phytoplankton in addition to zooplankton, the alternative attractors predicted by the classical models disappear for all realistic parameter settings, even if omnivorous fish have a strong preference for zooplankton. Our model also shows that the level of fish biomass above which zooplankton collapse should be higher when fish are omnivorous than when fish are zooplanktivorous. We also used the model to explore the potential effects of the now increasingly common practice of stocking lakes with filter-feeding fish to control cyanobacteria. Because omnivorous filter-feeding fish forage on phytoplankton as well as on the main grazers of phytoplankton, the net effect of such fish on the phytoplankton biomass is not obvious. Our model suggests that there may be a unimodal relationship between the biomass of omnivorous filter-feeding fish and the biomass of phytoplankton. This implies that to manage for reductions in phytoplankton biomass, heavy stocking or strong reduction of such fish is bes

    Optical characterization of marine phytoplankton assemblages within surface waters of the western Arctic Ocean.

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    An extensive data set of measurements within the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is used to characterize the optical properties of seawater associated with different phytoplankton communities. Hierarchical cluster analysis of diagnostic pigment concentrations partitioned stations into four distinct surface phytoplankton communities based on taxonomic composition and average cell size. Concurrent optical measurements of spectral absorption and backscattering coefficients and remote-sensing reflectance were used to characterize the magnitudes and spectral shapes of seawater optical properties associated with each phytoplankton assemblage. The results demonstrate measurable differences among communities in the average spectral shapes of the phytoplankton absorption coefficient. Similar or smaller differences were also observed in the spectral shapes of nonphytoplankton absorption coefficients and the particulate backscattering coefficient. Phytoplankton on average, however, contributed only 25% or less to the total absorption coefficient of seawater. Our analyses indicate that the interplay between the magnitudes and relative contributions of all optically significant constituents generally dampens any influence of varying phytoplankton absorption spectral shapes on the total absorption coefficient, yet there is still a marked discrimination observed in the spectral shape of the ratio of the total backscattering to total absorption coefficient and remote-sensing reflectance among the phytoplankton assemblages. These spectral variations arise mainly from differences in the bio-optical environment in which specific communities were found, as opposed to differences in the spectral shapes of phytoplankton optical properties per se. These results suggest potential approaches for the development of algorithms to assess phytoplankton community composition from measurements of seawater optical properties in western Arctic waters

    Effect of large- and small- bodied zooplankton on phytoplankton in a eutrophic oxbow

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    Macrozooplankton and microzooplankton effects on the phytoplankton were measured in situ in a eutrophic lake. Indigenous phytoplankton were incubated for 5 days in 301 mesocosms with either the macro- and microzooplankton (complete), microzooplankton only (micro) or no zooplankton (none). Changes in phytoplankton biovolume were investigated. Rotifer densities became significantly higher in the 'micro' treatment than in the 'complete' and 'none' treatments. Total algal biovolume changed little in the 'complete' and 'none' treatments, but increased significantly in the 'micro' treatment. The results suggest that macrozooplankton (Daphnia magna) suppressed it and microzooplankton (Keratella cochlearis) enhanced it. They had opposite net effects on the phytoplankton. Suppression of microzooplankton by Daphnia probably had an indirect negative effect on the phytoplankton

    Migration of Net Phytoplankton and Zooplankton in Mendum’s Pond, New Hampshire

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    The study examines the vertical distribution and migratory behavior of net phytoplankton and zooplankton of Mendum’s Pond in Barrington, N.H. The cyanobacteria, Microcystis and Aphanocapsa were the dominant net phytoplankton in this lake. Dominant zooplankton included Daphnia ambigua, Daphnia catawba, Bosmina longirostris, and both calanoid and cyclopoid copepods. Vertical distribution of net phytoplankton suggested migratory behavior, but no consistent pattern was observed. The zooplankton migrated nocturnally, however, calanoid copepods seemed to simultaneously migrate nocturnally and reversely at sunset, suggesting the presence of separate species or different age classes. Diel vertical migration (DVM) of zooplankton was not correlated with the distributions of net phytoplankton in the water column. However, grazing on smaller phytoplankton by zooplankton may have indirectly affected the abundance of the larger size class, net phytoplankton. SONAR analyses suggested that DVM of the phantom midge, Chaoborus, may have influenced the distribution of zooplankton. The findings suggest that a cascading effect of Chaoborus-zooplankton-phytoplankton may pressure vertical distributions of an entire ecosystem of planktonic organisms. Results from the study also raise concern in regard to abundant cyanobacteria and the future trophic status of Mendum’s Pond

    WISER deliverable D3.1-4: guidance document on sampling, analysis and counting standards for phytoplankton in lakes

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    Sampling, analysis and counting of phytoplankton has been undertaken in European lakes for more than 100 years (Apstein 1892, Lauterborn 1896, Lemmermann 1903, Woloszynska 1912, Nygaard 1949). Since this early period of pioneers, there has been progress in the methods used to sample, fix, store and analyse phytoplankton. The aim of the deliverable D3.1-4 is to select, harmonize and recommend the most optimal method as a basis for lake assessment. We do not report and review the huge number of European national methods or other published manuals for phytoplankton sampling and analysis that are available. An agreement on a proper sampling procedure is not trivial for lake phytoplankton. In the early 20th century, sampling was carried out using plankton nets. An unconcentrated sample without any pre-screening is required for quantitative phytoplankton analysis, for which various water samplers were developed. Sampling of distinct water depths or an integral sample of the euphotic zone affects the choice of the sampler and sampling procedure. The widely accepted method to quantify algal numbers together with species determination was developed by Utermöhl (1958), who proposed the counting technique using sediment chambers and inverse microscopy. This is the basis for the recently agreed CEN standard “Water quality - Guidance standard on the enumeration of phytoplankton using inverted microscopy (Utermöhl technique)” (CEN 15204, 2006). This CEN standard does not cover the sampling procedure or the calculation of biovolumes for phytoplankton species, although Rott (1981), Hillebrand et al (1999) and Pohlmann & Friedrich (2001) have contributed advice on how to calculate taxa biovolumes effectively. Willén (1976) suggested a simplified counting method, when counting 60 individuals of each species. For the Scandinavian region an agreed phytoplankton sampling and counting manual was compiled, which has been in use for about 20 years (Olrik et al. 1998, Blomqvist & Herlitz 1998). It is very unfortunate that no European guidance on sampling of phytoplankton in lakes was agreed before the phytoplankton assessment methods for the EU-WFD were developed and intercalibrated by Member States. In 2008 an initiative by the European Commission (Mandate M424) for two draft CEN standards on sampling in freshwaters and on calculation of phytoplankton biovolume was unfortunately delayed by administrative difficulties. Recently a grant agreement was signed between the Commission and DIN (German Institute for Standardization) in January 2012 to develop these standards. We believe this WISER guidance document can usefully contribute to these up-coming standards

    Invasion of a littoral cladoceran Sida crystallina into the pelagic zone of Christine Lake, NH and its potential impact on the phytoplankton community

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    This study evaluated the phytoplankton community and grazing influences of the zooplankton in oligotrophic Christine Lake, NH, by assessing the body size and clearance rates of the three dominant crustaceans: Sida crystallina (0.08 individuals L-1 ), Daphnia dubia (0.11 individuals L-1 ), and Leptodiaptomus sicilis (2.11 individuals L-1 ). Sida crystallina, typically a littoral cladoceran, was abundant throughout the water column in the open water, and contributed approximately 44% of the grazing in the pelagic zone. Phytoplankton abundance was examined to assess the potential impact S. crystallina might have on the phytoplankton in Christine lake. Aphanocapsa, the dominant phytoplankton in Christine Lake (relative abundance 68.54%), is a picocyanobacterium capable of forming colonies in the presence of planktonic grazers. Its ability to out-compete other phytoplankton due to differential grazing pressure suggests the appearance of the strong grazer S. crystallina may have contributed to the dominance of cyanobacteria in this oligotrophic lake

    Observing and modelling phytoplankton community structure in the North Sea

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    © Author(s) 2017. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Phytoplankton form the base of the marine food chain, and knowledge of phytoplankton community structure is fundamental when assessing marine biodiversity. Policy makers and other users require information on marine biodiversity and other aspects of the marine environment for the North Sea, a highly productive European shelf sea. This information must come from a combination of observations and models, but currently the coastal ocean is greatly under-sampled for phytoplankton data, and outputs of phytoplankton community structure from models are therefore not yet frequently validated. This study presents a novel set of in situ observations of phytoplankton community structure for the North Sea using accessory pigment analysis. The observations allow a good understanding of the patterns of surface phytoplankton biomass and community structure in the North Sea for the observed months of August 2010 and 2011. Two physical-biogeochemical ocean models, the biogeochemical components of which are different variants of the widely used European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM), were then validated against these and other observations. Both models were a good match for sea surface temperature observations, and a reasonable match for remotely sensed ocean colour observations. However, the two models displayed very different phytoplankton community structures, with one better matching the in situ observations than the other. Nonetheless, both models shared some similarities with the observations in terms of spatial features and inter-annual variability. An initial comparison of the formulations and parameterizations of the two models suggests that diversity between the parameter settings of model phytoplankton functional types, along with formulations which promote a greater sensitivity to changes in light and nutrients, is key to capturing the observed phytoplankton community structure. These findings will help inform future model development, which should be coupled with detailed validation studies, in order to help facilitate the wider application of marine biogeochemical modelling to user and policy needs
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