Pilskaln Cynthia H.

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Cynthia H.

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  • Preprint
    Alexandrium fundyense cysts in the Gulf of Maine : long-term time series of abundance and distribution, and linkages to past and future blooms
    ( 2013-10) Anderson, Donald M. ; Keafer, Bruce A. ; Kleindinst, Judith L. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Martin, Jennifer L. ; Norton, Kerry ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Smith, Juliette L. ; Sherwood, Christopher R. ; Butman, Bradford
    Here we document Alexandrium fundyense cyst abundance and distribution patterns over nine years (1997 and 2004-2011) in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and identify linkages between those patterns and several metrics of the severity or magnitude of blooms occurring before and after each autumn cyst survey. We also explore the relative utility of two measures of cyst abundance and demonstrate that GOM cyst counts can be normalized to sediment volume, revealing meaningful patterns equivalent to those determined with dry weight normalization.Cyst concentrations were highly variable spatially. Two distinct 1 seedbeds (defined here as accumulation zones with > 300 cysts cm-3) are evident, one in the Bay of Fundy (BOF) and one in mid-coast Maine. Overall, seedbed locations remained relatively constant through time, but their area varied 3-4 fold, and total cyst abundance more than 10 fold among years. A major expansion of the mid-coast Maine seedbed occurred in 2009 following an unusually intense A. fundyense bloom with visible red-water conditions, but that feature disappeared by late 2010. The regional system thus has only two seedbeds with the bathymetry, sediment characteristics, currents, biology, and environmental conditions necessary to persist for decades or longer. Strong positive correlations were confirmed between the abundance of cysts in both the 0-1 and the 0-3 cm layers of sediments in autumn and geographic measures of the extent of the bloom that occurred the next year (i.e., cysts → blooms), such as the length of coastline closed due to shellfish toxicity or the southernmost latitude of shellfish closures. In general, these metrics of bloom geographic extent did not correlate with the number of cysts in sediments following the blooms (blooms → cysts). There are, however, significant positive correlations between 0-3 cm cyst abundances and metrics of the preceding bloom that are indicative of bloom intensity or vegetative cell abundance (e.g., cumulative shellfish toxicity, duration of detectable toxicity in shellfish, and bloom termination date). These data suggest that it may be possible to use cyst abundance to empirically forecast the geographic extent of the forthcoming bloom and, conversely, to use other metrics from bloom and toxicity events to forecast the size of the subsequent cyst population as the inoculum for the next year’s bloom. This is an important step towards understanding the excystment/encystment cycle in A. fundyense bloom dynamics while also augmenting our predictive capability for this HAB-forming species in the GOM.
  • Preprint
    Sediment flux and recent paleoclimate in Jordan Basin, Gulf of Maine
    ( 2014-10-09) Keigwin, Lloyd D. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H.
    We report planktonic foraminiferal fluxes (accumulation rates) and oxygen isotopes (δ18O) from a nine-month sediment trap deployment, and δ18O from three sediment cores in Jordan Basin, Gulf of Maine. The sediment trap was deployed at 150 m, about halfway to the basin floor, and samples were collected every three weeks between August 2010 and May 2011. The planktonic foraminiferal fauna in the trap is dominated by Neogloboquadrina incompta that reached a maximum flux in the second half of October. Oxygen isotope ratios on that species indicate that on average during the collecting period it lived in the surface mixed layer, when compared to predicted values based on data from a nearby hydrographic buoy from the same period. New large diameter piston cores from Jordan Basin are 25 and 28 m long. Marine hemipelagic sediments are 25 m thick, and the sharp contact with underlying red deglacial sediments is bracketed by two radiocarbon dates on bivalves that indicate ice-free conditions began 16,900 calibrated years ago. Radiocarbon dating of foraminifera indicates that the basin floor sediments (270-290 m) accumulated at >3 m/kyr during the Holocene, whereas rates were about one tenth that on the basin slope (230 m). In principle, Jordan Basin sediments have the potential to provide time series with interannual resolution. Our results indicate the Holocene is marked by ~2°C variability in SST, and the coldest events of the 20th century, during the mid 1960s and mid 1920s, appear to be recorded in the uppermost 50 cm of the seafloor.
  • Preprint
    A red tide of Alexandrium fundyense in the Gulf of Maine
    ( 2013-04-15) McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Brosnahan, Michael L. ; Couture, Darcie A. ; He, Ruoying ; Keafer, Bruce A. ; Manning, James P. ; Martin, Jennifer L. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Townsend, David W. ; Anderson, Donald M.
    In early July 2009, an unusually high concentration of the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense occurred in the western Gulf of Maine, causing surface waters to appear reddish brown to the human eye. The discolored water appeared to be the southern terminus of a large-scale event that caused shellfish toxicity along the entire coast of Maine to the Canadian border. Rapid-response shipboard sampling efforts together with satellite data suggest the water discoloration in the western Gulf of Maine was a highly ephemeral feature of less than two weeks in duration. Flow cytometric analysis of surface samples from the red water indicated the population was undergoing sexual reproduction. Cyst fluxes downstream of the discolored water were the highest ever measured in the Gulf of Maine, and a large deposit of new cysts was observed that fall. Although the mechanisms causing this event remain unknown, its timing coincided with an anomalous period of downwelling-favorable winds that could have played a role in aggregating upward-swimming cells. Regardless of the underlying causes, this event highlights the importance of short-term episodic phenomena on regional population dynamics of A. fundyense.
  • Working Paper
    A science plan for carbon cycle research in North American coastal waters. Report of the Coastal CARbon Synthesis (CCARS) community workshop, August 19-21, 2014
    (Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry Program, 2016) Benway, Heather M. ; Alin, Simone R. ; Boyer, Elizabeth ; Cai, Wei-Jun ; Coble, Paula G. ; Cross, Jessica N. ; Friedrichs, Marjorie A. M. ; Goni, Miguel ; Griffith, Peter C. ; Herrmann, Maria ; Lohrenz, Steven E. ; Mathis, Jeremy T. ; McKinley, Galen A. ; Najjar, Raymond G. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Siedlecki, Samantha A. ; Smith, Richard A.
    Relative to their surface area, continental margins represent some of the largest carbon fluxes in the global ocean, but sparse and sporadic sampling in space and time makes these systems difficult to characterize and quantify. Recognizing the importance of continental margins to the overall North American carbon budget, terrestrial and marine carbon cycle scientists have been collaborating on a series of synthesis, carbon budgeting, and modeling exercises for coastal regions of North America, which include the Gulf of Mexico, the Laurentian Great Lakes (LGL), and the coastal waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. The Coastal CARbon Synthesis (CCARS) workshops and research activities have been conducted over the past several years as a partner activity between the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) Program and the North American Carbon Program (NACP) to synthesize existing data and improve quantitative assessments of the North American carbon budget.
  • Article
    Upward nitrate transport by phytoplankton in oceanic waters : balancing nutrient budgets in oligotrophic seas
    (PeerJ, 2014-03-13) Villareal, Tracy A. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Montoya, Joseph P. ; Dennett, Mark R.
    In oceanic subtropical gyres, primary producers are numerically dominated by small (1–5 µm diameter) pro- and eukaryotic cells that primarily utilize recycled nutrients produced by rapid grazing turnover in a highly efficient microbial loop. Continuous losses of nitrogen (N) to depth by sinking, either as single cells, aggregates or fecal pellets, are balanced by both nitrate inputs at the base of the euphotic zone and N2-fixation. This input of new N to balance export losses (the biological pump) is a fundamental aspect of N cycling and central to understanding carbon fluxes in the ocean. In the Pacific Ocean, detailed N budgets at the time-series station HOT require upward transport of nitrate from the nutricline (80–100 m) into the surface layer (∼0–40 m) to balance productivity and export needs. However, concentration gradients are negligible and cannot support the fluxes. Physical processes can inject nitrate into the base of the euphotic zone, but the mechanisms for transporting this nitrate into the surface layer across many 10s of m in highly stratified systems are unknown. In these seas, vertical migration by the very largest (102–103 µm diameter) phytoplankton is common as a survival strategy to obtain N from sub-euphotic zone depths. This vertical migration is driven by buoyancy changes rather than by flagellated movement and can provide upward N transport as nitrate (mM concentrations) in the cells. However, the contribution of vertical migration to nitrate transport has been difficult to quantify over the required basin scales. In this study, we use towed optical systems and isotopic tracers to show that migrating diatom (Rhizosolenia) mats are widespread in the N. Pacific Ocean from 140°W to 175°E and together with other migrating phytoplankton (Ethmodiscus, Halosphaera, Pyrocystis, and solitary Rhizosolenia) can mediate time-averaged transport of N (235 µmol N m-2 d-1) equivalent to eddy nitrate injections (242 µmol NO3− m-2 d-1). This upward biotic transport can close N budgets in the upper 250 m of the central Pacific Ocean and together with diazotrophy creates a surface zone where biological nutrient inputs rather than physical processes dominate the new N flux. In addition to these numerically rare large migrators, there is evidence in the literature of ascending behavior in small phytoplankton that could contribute to upward flux as well. Although passive downward movement has dominated models of phytoplankton flux, there is now sufficient evidence to require a rethinking of this paradigm. Quantifying these fluxes is a challenge for the future and requires a reexamination of individual phytoplankton sinking rates as well as methods for capturing and enumerating ascending phytoplankton in the sea.
  • Article
    RAPID : research on automated plankton identification
    (Oceanography Society, 2007-06) Benfield, Mark C. ; Grosjean, Philippe ; Culverhouse, Phil F. ; Irigoien, Xabier ; Sieracki, Michael E. ; Lopez-Urrutia, Angel ; Dam, Hans G. ; Hu, Qiao ; Davis, Cabell S. ; Hansen, Allen ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Riseman, Edward M. ; Schultz, Howard ; Utgoff, Paul E. ; Gorsky, Gabriel
    When Victor Hensen deployed the first true plankton1 net in 1887, he and his colleagues were attempting to answer three fundamental questions: What planktonic organisms are present in the ocean? How many of each type are present? How does the plankton’s composition change over time? Although answering these questions has remained a central goal of oceanographers, the sophisticated tools available to enumerate planktonic organisms today offer capabilities that Hensen probably could never have imagined.
  • Article
    Carbon budget of tidal wetlands, estuaries, and shelf waters of eastern North America
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-04-04) Najjar, Raymond G. ; Herrmann, Maria ; Alexander, Richard ; Boyer, Elizabeth W. ; Burdige, David J. ; Butman, David ; Cai, Wei-Jun ; Canuel, Elizabeth A. ; Chen, Robert F. ; Friedrichs, Marjorie A. M. ; Feagin, Russell A. ; Griffith, Peter C. ; Hinson, Audra L. ; Holmquist, James R. ; Hu, Xinping ; Kemp, William M. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Mannino, Antonio ; McCallister, S. Leigh ; McGillis, Wade R. ; Mulholland, Margaret R. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Salisbury, Joseph E. ; Signorini, Sergio R. ; St-Laurent, Pierre ; Tian, Hanqin ; Tzortziou, Maria ; Vlahos, Penny ; Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Zimmerman, Richard C.
    Carbon cycling in the coastal zone affects global carbon budgets and is critical for understanding the urgent issues of hypoxia, acidification, and tidal wetland loss. However, there are no regional carbon budgets spanning the three main ecosystems in coastal waters: tidal wetlands, estuaries, and shelf waters. Here we construct such a budget for eastern North America using historical data, empirical models, remote sensing algorithms, and process‐based models. Considering the net fluxes of total carbon at the domain boundaries, 59 ± 12% (± 2 standard errors) of the carbon entering is from rivers and 41 ± 12% is from the atmosphere, while 80 ± 9% of the carbon leaving is exported to the open ocean and 20 ± 9% is buried. Net lateral carbon transfers between the three main ecosystem types are comparable to fluxes at the domain boundaries. Each ecosystem type contributes substantially to exchange with the atmosphere, with CO2 uptake split evenly between tidal wetlands and shelf waters, and estuarine CO2 outgassing offsetting half of the uptake. Similarly, burial is about equal in tidal wetlands and shelf waters, while estuaries play a smaller but still substantial role. The importance of tidal wetlands and estuaries in the overall budget is remarkable given that they, respectively, make up only 2.4 and 8.9% of the study domain area. This study shows that coastal carbon budgets should explicitly include tidal wetlands, estuaries, shelf waters, and the linkages between them; ignoring any of them may produce a biased picture of coastal carbon cycling.
  • Article
    Seasonal controls of aragonite saturation states in the Gulf of Maine
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-01-22) Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Lawson, Gareth L. ; Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Maas, Amy E.
    The Gulf of Maine (GoME) is a shelf region especially vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) due to natural conditions of low pH and aragonite saturation states (Ω-Ar). This study is the first to assess the major oceanic processes controlling seasonal variability of the carbonate system and its linkages with pteropod abundance in Wilkinson Basin in the GoME. Two years of seasonal sampling cruises suggest that water-column carbonate chemistry in the region undergoes a seasonal cycle, wherein the annual cycle of stratification-overturn, primary production, respiration-remineralization and mixing all play important roles, at distinct spatiotemporal scales. Surface production was tightly coupled with remineralization in the benthic nepheloid layer during high production seasons, which results in occasional aragonite undersaturation. From spring to summer, carbonate chemistry in the surface across Wilkinson Basin reflects a transition from a production-respiration balanced system to a net autotropic system. Mean water-column Ω-Ar and abundance of large thecosomatous pteropods show some correlation, although patchiness and discrete cohort reproductive success likely also influence their abundance. Overall, photosynthesis-respiration is the primary driving force controlling Ω-Ar variability during the spring-to-summer transition as well as over the seasonal cycle. However, calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution appears to occur near bottom in fall and winter when bottom water Ω-Ar is generally low but slightly above 1. This is accompanied by a decrease in pteropod abundance that is consistent with previous CaCO3 flux trap measurements. The region might experience persistent subsurface aragonite undersaturation in 30–40 years under continued ocean acidification.
  • Preprint
    High concentrations of marine snow and diatom algal mats in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre : implications for carbon and nitrogen cycles in the oligotrophic ocean
    ( 2005-08-02) Pilskaln, Cynthia H. ; Villareal, Tracy A. ; Dennett, Mark R. ; Darkangelo-Wood, C. ; Meadows, G.
    A Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) were utilized on three cruises in the oligotrophic North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) between 1995 and 2002 to quantify the size and abundance of marine snow and Rhizosolenia diatom mats within the upper 305 m of the water column. Quantitative image analysis of video collected by the VPR and an ROV-mounted particle imaging system provides the first transect of marine snow size and abundance across the central North Pacific gyre extending from 920 km NW of Oahu to 555 km off Southern California. Snow abundance in the upper 55 m was surprisingly high for this oligotrophic region, with peak values of 6.0-13.0 x 103 aggregates m-3 at the western and eastern-most stations. At stations located in the middle of the transect (farthest from HI and CA), upper water column snow abundance displayed values of ~0.5-1.0 x 103 aggregates m-3. VPR and ROV imagery also provided in-situ documentation of the presence of nitrogen-transporting, vertically migrating Rhizosolenia mats from the surface to >300 m with mat abundances ranging from 0-10 mats m-3. There was clear evidence that Rhizosolenia mats commonly reach sub-nutricline depths. The mats were noted to be a common feature in the North Pacific gyre, with the lower salinity edge of the California Current appearing to be the easternmost extent of their oceanic distribution. Based on ROV observations at depth, flux by large (>1.5 cm) mats is revised upward 4.5 fold, yielding an average value of 40 µmol N m-2 d-1, a value equaling previous estimates that included much smaller mats visible only to towed optical systems. Our results suggest that the occurrence across a broad region of the NPSG of particulate organic matter (POM) production events represented by high concentrations of Rhizosolenia mats, associated mesozooplankton, and abundant detrital marine aggregates may represent significant stochastic components in the overall carbon, nitrogen and silica budgets of the oligotrophic subtropical gyre. Likewise, their presence has important implications for the proposed climate-driven, ecosystem reorganization or domain shift occurring in the NPSG.