Temporal variability in phytoplankton pigments, picoplankton and coccolithophores along a transect through the North Atlantic and tropical southwestern Pacific

Abstract : Biogeochemical processes in the sea are triggered in various ways by chlorophyll-containing phytoplankton groups. While the variability of chlorophyll concentration at sea has been observed from satellites for several years, these groups are known only from cruises which are limited in space and time. The Geochemistry, Phytoplankton and Color of the Ocean programme (GeP&CO) was set up to describe and understand the variability of phytoplankton composition on large spatial scales under a multi-year sampling strategy. It was based on sea-surface sampling along the route of the merchant ship Contship London which travelled four times a year from Le Havre (France) to Noumea (New Caledonia) via New York, Panama and Auckland. Observations included the measurement of photosynthetic pigments, counts of picoplanktonic cells by flow cytometry (Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and picoeucaryotes) and counting and identification of coccolithophores. The results confirmed that tropical areas have low seasonal variability and are characterized by relatively high divinyl-chlorophyll a and zeaxanthin concentration and that the variability is strongest at high latitudes-where the phytoplankton biomass and population structure are found to have large seasonal cycles. Thus, the spring bloom in the North Atlantic and an austral winter bloom north of New Zealand are marked by chlorophyll concentrations which are often higher than 0.5 mu g l(-1) and by high concentration of fucoxanthin (a pigment used as an indicator for diatoms), while summer populations are dominated by Prochlorococcus sp. and have low chlorophyll concentrations. Apart from this yearly bloom at temperate latitudes, fucoxanthin is scarce, except in the equatorial upwelling zone in the eastern Pacific Ocean, where it is found in moderate amounts. In this region, relatively high chlorophyll concentrations extend generally as far as 14 degrees S and do not respond to the seasonal strengthening of the equatorial upwelling during the austral winter. Prochlorococcus, which is known to dominate in oligotrophic tropical seas and to disappear in cold conditions, in fact has its minimum during the spring bloom in the North Atlantic, rather than during the winter. Coccolithophores are ubiquitous, showing a succession of species ill response to oceanic conditions and provinces. 19'Hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin, the pigment generally considered as all indicator of coccolithophores, is relatively abundant at all times and in all regions, but its abundance is generally not tightly correlated with that of coccolithophores. The regional differences revealed by these results are in overall agreement with Longhurst's division of the ocean into ecological provinces. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Yves Dandonneau, Yves Montel, Jean Blanchot, Jacques Giraudeau, Jacques Neveux. Temporal variability in phytoplankton pigments, picoplankton and coccolithophores along a transect through the North Atlantic and tropical southwestern Pacific. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, Elsevier, 2006, 53 (4), pp.689-712. ⟨10.1016/j.dsr.2006.01.002⟩. ⟨ird-00132021⟩

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