Models of Plankton Community Changes during a Warm Water Anomaly in Arctic Waters Show Altered Trophic Pathways with Minimal Changes in Carbon Export


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Abstract

Carbon flow through pelagic food webs is an expression of the composition, biomass and activity of phytoplankton as primary producers. In the near future, severe environmental changes in the Arctic Ocean are expected to lead to modifications of phytoplankton communities. Here, we used a combination of linear inverse modeling and ecological network analysis to study changes in food webs before, during, and after an anomalous warm water event in the eastern Fram Strait of the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) that resulted in a shift from diatoms to flagellates during the summer (June–July). The model predicts substantial differences in the pathways of carbon flow in diatom- vs. Phaeocystis/nanoflagellate-dominated phytoplankton communities, but relatively small differences in carbon export. The model suggests a change in the zooplankton community and activity through increasing microzooplankton abundance and the switching of meso- and macrozooplankton feeding from strict herbivory to omnivory, detritivory and coprophagy. When small cells and flagellates dominated, the phytoplankton carbon pathway through the food web was longer and the microbial loop more active. Furthermore, one step was added in the flow from phytoplankton to mesozooplankton, and phytoplankton carbon to higher trophic levels is available via detritus or microzooplankton. Model results highlight how specific changes in phytoplankton community composition, as expected in a climate change scenario, do not necessarily lead to a reduction in carbon export.



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Article
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Primary Topic
Research Networks
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Eprint ID
45071
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2017.00160

Cite as
Vernet, M. , Richardson, T. L. , Metfies, K. , Nöthig, E. M. and Peeken, I. (2017): Models of Plankton Community Changes during a Warm Water Anomaly in Arctic Waters Show Altered Trophic Pathways with Minimal Changes in Carbon Export , Frontiers in Marine Science, 4 (160), pp. 1-19 . doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00160


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