Dynamics and functional diversity of the smallest phytoplankton on the Northeast US shelf
Fowler, Bethany L.
Neubert, Michael G.
Hunter-Cevera, Kristen R.
Olson, Robert J.
Solow, Andrew R.
Sosik, Heidi M.
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Picophytoplankton are the most abundant primary producers in the ocean. Knowledge of their community dynamics is key to understanding their role in marine food webs and global biogeochemical cycles. To this end, we analyzed a 16-y time series of observations of a phytoplankton community at a nearshore site on the Northeast US Shelf. We used a size-structured population model to estimate in situ division rates for the picoeukaryote assemblage and compared the dynamics with those of the picocyanobacteria Synechococcus at the same location. We found that the picoeukaryotes divide at roughly twice the rate of the more abundant Synechococcus and are subject to greater loss rates (likely from viral lysis and zooplankton grazing). We describe the dynamics of these groups across short and long timescales and conclude that, despite their taxonomic differences, their populations respond similarly to changes in the biotic and abiotic environment. Both groups appear to be temperature limited in the spring and light limited in the fall and to experience greater mortality during the day than at night. Compared with Synechococcus, the picoeukaryotes are subject to greater top-down control and contribute more to the region’s primary productivity than their standing stocks suggest.
Author Posting. © National Academy of Sciences, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of National Academy of Sciences for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117(22), (2020): 12215-12221, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1918439117.
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