Impact of a cyclonic eddy on phytoplankton community structure and photosynthetic competency in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean

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Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
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A synoptic spatial examination of the eddy Haulani (17-20 November 2000) revealed a structure typical of Hawaiian cyclonic eddies with divergent surface flow forcing the upward displacement of deep waters, Hydrographic surveys revealed that surface water in the eddy center was ca. 3.5degreesC cooler, 0.5 saltier, and 1.4 kg m(-3) denser than surface waters outside the eddy. Vertically integrated concentrations of nitrate+nitrite, phosphate and silicate were enhanced over out-eddy values by about 2-fold, and nitrate+nitrite concentrations were ca. 8 x greater within the euphotic zone inside the eddy than outside. Si:N ratios were lower within the upper mixed layer of the eddy, indicating an enhanced Si uptake relative to nitrate+nitrite. Chlorophyll a concentrations were higher within the eddy compared to control stations outside, when integrated over the upper 150 m, but were not significantly different when integrated over the depth of the euphotic zone. Photosynthetic competency, assessed using fast repetition-rate fluorometry, varied with the doming of the isopycnals and the supply of macro-nutrients to the euphotic zone. The physical and chemical environment of the eddy selected for the accumulation of larger phytoplankton species. Photosynthetic bacteria (Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus) and small (<3 &mu;m diameter) photosynthetic eukaryotes were 3.6-fold more numerically abundant outside the eddy as compared to inside. Large photosynthetic eukaryotes (>3 mum diameter) were more abundant inside the eddy than outside. Diatoms of the genera Rhizosolenia and Hemiaulus outside the eddy contained diazotrophic endosymbiontic cyanobacteria, but these endosymbionts were absent from the cells of these species inside the eddy. The increase in cell numbers of large photosynthetic eukaryotes with hard silica or calcite cell walls is likely to have a profound impact on the proportion of the organic carbon production that is exported to deep water by sinking of senescent cells and cells grazed by herbivorous zooplankton and repackaged as large fecal pellets. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


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Doi 10.1016/S0967-0637(03)00059-1