Scientia Marina, Vol 63, No S1 (1999)

Particulate organic matter composition in a semi-enclosed Periantarctic system: the Straits of Magellan

M. Fabiano
Istituto di Scienze Ambientali Marine, Università di Genova, Italy

P. Povero
Istituto di Scienze Ambientali Marine, Università di Genova, Italy

R. Danovaro
Facoltà di Scienze, Università di Ancona, Italy

C. Misic
Istituto di Scienze Ambientali Marine, Università di Genova, Italy


The elemental and biochemical composition of particulate organic matter (POM) was investigated in the Straits of Magellan during February-March 1991. Twenty-two stations were selected in order to identify different areas of the Magellan ecosystem from a trophic point of view. The Strait of Magellan can be divided into three subsystems characterized by different hydrological and geomorphological conditions. Seston concentrations were mostly constrained by physical events, particularly the influence of oceanic and land run-off water inputs and the strong vertical mixing and resuspension events. POM composition displayed quali-quantitative differences between the three areas. In the first subsystem, influenced by Pacific waters, the low seston and POM concentrations and the high POC/Chl-a ratio values indicated the general predominance of the detrital and heterotrophic fractions. In the second subsystem, characterized by superficial stratification, higher seston and organic matter concentrations and lower values of POC/Chl-a ratio were found, indicating that this subsystem was influenced by an active autotrophic component. Shallow waters with intense tidal regime and strong vertical mixing characterized the third subsystem, connected to the Atlantic Ocean, which displayed an increasing importance of the inorganic fraction (values of the POC/TSM ratio lower than in the other systems). Moreover, the third subsystem showed higher values of the RNA/DNA ratio, possibly indicating that resuspension events may enhance the metabolic state of the organic particles mainly dominated by heterotrophic components.


Particulate organic matter; biochemical composition; Straits of Magellan

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Copyright (c) 1999 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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