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Plankton dynamics and carbon flux in an area of upwelling off the coast of Morocco
Head, E.J.H.; Harrison, W.G.; Irwin, B.I.; Horne, E.P.W.; Li, W.K.W. (1996). Plankton dynamics and carbon flux in an area of upwelling off the coast of Morocco. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 43(11-12): 1713-1738.
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part I. Oceanographic Research Papers. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0637; e-ISSN 1879-0119, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Head, E.J.H.
  • Harrison, W.G.
  • Irwin, B.I.
  • Horne, E.P.W.
  • Li, W.K.W.

    A carbon flux study was carried out off the coast of Morocco, at 31°N, in a region characterized by the presence of a persistent cyclonic eddy. Two short-term (4 and 3 day) deployments of free-floating sediment traps were combined with water column sampling and rate process measurements as the ship followed the traps. For a period of 36 h between trap deployments, a hydrographic section was run along 31°30'N as part of a larger scale survey being carried out simultaneously on the R.V. A. von Humboldt. The first trap deployment was near the eastern margin of the eddy and the traps moved to the north and west in a frontal jet associated with its northern boundary. After the second deployment, which was at the recovery point of the first, the traps moved to the west and then to the southwest. Throughout the study, chlorophyll concentrations varied between 27 and 125 mg m-2 (0–100 m), with highest concentrations in the upwelled water nearest the coast and in upwelled water generated within the cyclonic eddy. Particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON) concentrations were relatively uniform (13.6±1.8 and 1.63±28 g m-2 with phytoplankton carbon accounting for 16–85% of total POC. Bacterial carbon was ~ 5% of total POC and mesozooplankton carbon concentrations were equivalent to ~9% of total POC. Microzooplankton biomass was not assessed but POC:PON ratios in the water column were often high, suggesting there was sometimes a large detrital component in the POC. Primary production rates varied between 1.0 and 2.5 g C m-2 day-1. Bacterial consumption accounted for ~50% of primary production. Metabolic rates suggested that copepods were ingesting more than 0.4 g C m-2 day-1. while filtration rates suggested that ingestion of phytoplankton carbon was only ~0.2 g C m-2day-1, even when phytoplankton constituted ~85% of the POC. f-ratios (based on uptake rates for 15N-nitrate and ammonia) were between 0.1 and 0.4, and excretion by mesozooplankton could account for ~ 40% of the daily ammonium uptake by phytoplankton. HPLC pigment analysis showed that when chlorophyll biomass was high, diatoms were dominant, whereas when it was low, small prymnesiophytes, chlorophytes and diatoms were all important. The composition of the fluoresecent pigments in material in the sediment traps indicated that intact phytoplankton and copepod faecal pellets were the main sources but the relative rates of sedimentation of pigment, POC and PON for the two trapping periods did not reflect differences that were observed in the overlying water column. This was likely to be the result of spatial heterogeneity and strong horizontal currents heterogeneity and strong horizontal currents within the euphotic zone. Thus, material collected at 100 m probably did not originate in the water column immediately overlying the traps and trapping efficiencies might also have been variable.

  • BioChem: Ring net samples collected as part of a JGOFS cruise in the North Atlantic during the fall of 1992, more

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