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Photosynthetic characteristics of nanoplankton and picoplankton from the surface mixed layer
Joint, I.R.; Pomroy, A.J. (1986). Photosynthetic characteristics of nanoplankton and picoplankton from the surface mixed layer. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 92(4): 465-474
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Joint, I.R.
  • Pomroy, A.J.

    Nanoplankton and picoplankton primary production has been studied at two oceanic stations in the Porcupine Sea-bight and at one shelf station in the Celtic Sea. At both sites, low wind conditions in June and July 1985 resulted in greatly reduced vertical turbulent mixing and a secondary, temporary thermocline developed in what is usually a well-mixed surface layer; as a result, there was physical separation of the phytoplankton within two zones of the surface mixed layer. The photosynthetic characteristics of three size fractions (>5 µm, <5 to >1 µm and <1 to >0.2 µm) of phytoplankton populations from the two zones have been measured. Phytoplankton was more abundant at the oceanic stations and chlorophyll a values were between 1.3 and 2.2 mg chlorophyll a m-3, compared with 0.3 to 0.6 mg chlorophyll a m-3 at the shelf station; at both stations, numbers of cyanobacteria were slightly higher in the lower zone of the surface mixed layer. There was no effect of the temporary thermocline on the vertical profiles of primary production and most phtosynthesis occurred in the surface 10 m. Photosynthetic parameters of the three size fractions of phytoplankton have been determined; there was considerable day-to-day variation in the measured photosynthetic parameters. Assimilation number (P m B ) of all >5 µm phytoplankton was lower for the deeper than for the surface populations, but there was little change in initial slope (a B ). The small oceanic nanoplankton (<5 to >1µm) showed changes similar to the >5 µm phytoplankton, but the same size fraction from the shelf station showed changes that were more like those shown by the picoplankton (<1 µm) viz, little change in P mB but an increase in a B with depth. Values of aB were generally greater for the picoplankton fraction than for the larger phytoplankton, but values of adaptation parameter (Ik )(=PmB /a) were not always less. There was little evidence to support the hypothesis that these populations of picoplankton were significantly more adapted to low light conditions than the larger phytoplankton cells. When photosynthetic parameters of the picoplankton were normalised to cell number (PmC /aC ) rather than chlorophyll a, PmC was comparable to other published data for picoplankton, but a C was much lower. The maximum doubling time of the picoplankton at saturating irradiance is calculated to be ca. 8.5 h for the oceanic population and ca. 6.2 h for the shelf population.

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