The seasonal planktonic cycle in coastal waters of the Canary Islands
Keywords:plankton cycles, primary production, plankton respiration, mesozooplankton ingestion, P/R ratio, Canary Islands
The short-term temporal variation in the phytoplankton and mesozooplankton cycles was studied in a coastal area off east Gran Canaria Island. A small phytoplankton bloom, split into two peaks, appeared during late winter (end of February and March), coinciding with the lowest temperatures in the water column. A clear inverse relationship was observed between the biomasses in mesozooplankton and phytoplankton during the bloom period. The peaks in primary production and phytoplankton biomass were uncoupled in time, suggesting that biomass could depend on consumer control (grazing), and primary production on resource control (nutrients). Mesozooplankton grazing represented less than 20% of the primary production, an indication that small zooplankton and protozoans controlled the phytoplankton populations, dominated by picoplanktonic cells (> 60% of the primary production). The ratio between depth-integrated primary production and community respiration (P/R) covaried with primary production (P), showing that changes in P control the trophic status of the system. At P > 400 mgC m-2 day-1 the P/R ratio is > 1, switching the system from heterotrophy to autotrophy, a situation that takes place during the phytoplankton growth period.
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