Dilution experiments were performed to quantify growth and mortality rates of phytoplankton groups (as defined by pigment markers) for 5 wk in an iron-induced phytoplankton bloom during the European Iron Fertilization Experiment (EIFEX) conducted in the Southern Ocean. Rates could be reliably measured for the 2 main groups, diatoms and prymnesiophytes. Mean phytoplankton intrinsic growth rates were around 0.23 d−1, without a significant temporal trend. Mortality rates, however, decreased with time (from ~0.3 to ~0.06 d−1), leading to an increase in decoupling between phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing. The decrease in grazing was correlated with the decrease in concentrations of small microprotozooplankton (<60 μm). As a consequence, net growth in the dilution experiments increased from around 0 d−1 up to 0.13 d−1 in the last days of the experiment, 35 d after the initial iron fertilization. This pattern did not reflect the dynamics of net phytoplankton accumulation in the fertilized patch, which increased until Days 24 to 27 and decreased thereafter. The difference between experimental and natural phytoplankton net growth is the biomass that escapes microzooplankton grazing and does not accumulate in the surface mixed layer, i.e. the biomass that went to higher trophic levels plus that exported out of the mixed layer. It increased throughout EIFEX and suggests a shift from a predominantly recycling system towards a more exporting one.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 4: Synthesis: The Earth System from a Polar Perspective > WP 4.1: Current and Future Changes of the Earth System