Phyto- and protozooplankton biomass during austral summer in surface waters of the Weddell Sea and vicinity

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SUMMARYPhyto- and Protozooplankton were sampled in the upper 10 m of the water column in austral summer during a cruise of RV 'Polarstern' from January 6 to February 20 1985 in the eastern Bransfield Strait vicinity and in the northern, southeastern (off Vestkapp, twice: I and II) and southern Weddell Sea (Vahsel Bay across the Filchner Depression to Gould Bay). The plankton assemblages are discussed in relation to physical, chemical and biological factors in the different geographical areas in summer. Phytoplankton biomass (Phytoplankton carbon, PPC) ranged from 4-194 µg carbon/l and consisted on average of 65 % diatoms and 35 % autotrophic flagellates. Whereas in the northwest phytoplankton assemblages were dominated by small nanoflagellates (78 % of PPC), higher biomass of diatoms (54 - 94 % of PPC) occurred at the other sampling sites. In general autotrophic flagellates and small pennate diatoms dominated at oceanic stations; in neritic areas large centric diatoms prevailed. Chlorophyll a concentrations ranged from 0.25 to 3.14 µg chl a/ l with a mean of 1.13 µg chlorophyll a/ l and an average phytoplankton carbon/ chlorophyll a ratio of 39. Protozooplankton biomass (Protozooplankton carbon, PZC) ranged from 0-67 µg carbon/l and consisted of 49 % ciliates, 49 % heterotrophic dinoflagellates and 2 % tintinnids. Heterotrophic dinoflagellates were more important in the northern investigation areas (58 - 84 % of PZC). Ciliates dominated the protozooplankton in the southeast and south (56 - 65 % of PZC); higher abundances of tintinnids were observed only in the south (11 % of PZC). The most remarkable feature of the surface waters was the high protozooplankton biomass: protozooplankton amounted to 25 % on an average of the combined biomass of PPC plus PZC for the entire investigation period. Protozoan biomass in the southeastern and southern Weddell Sea occasionally exceeded phytoplankton biomass. Temperature, salinity, and inorganic nutrients were generally lower in the southern regions; at most of these stations a meltwater layer occurred in the upper meters of the water column. We suggest that this physical regime allows a well developed summer system with a high proportion of heterotrophic microplankton. In the eastern Bransfield Strait, in the northern Weddell Sea and close to the coast off Vestkapp (I), however, early summer conditions occurred with less protozooplankton contribution.

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Nöthig, E. M. , von Bodungen, B. and Sui, Q. (1991): Phyto- and protozooplankton biomass during austral summer in surface waters of the Weddell Sea and vicinity , Polar biology, 11 , pp. 293-304 .


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