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Microzooplankton herbivory and community structure in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica

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Title
Microzooplankton herbivory and community structure in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica
Authors
Yang, Eun Jin
Jiang, Yong
Lee, SangHoon
Subject
Oceanography
Keywords
Microzooplankton; Grazing rate; Growthrate; Amundsen Sea; Polynya; Araon; Araon
Issue Date
2016
Citation
Yang, Eun Jin, YongJiang, and SangHoon Lee. 2016. Microzooplankton herbivory and community structure in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. Deep-Sea Research II, 123: 55-68.
Abstract
We examined microzooplankton abundance, community structure, and grazing impact on phytoplankton in the Amundsen Sea, Western Antarctica, during the early austral summer from December 2010 to January 2011. Our study area was divided into three regions based on topography, hydrographic properties, and trophic conditions: (1) the Oceanic Zone (OZ), with free sea ice and low phytoplankton biomass dominated by diatoms; (2) the Sea Ice Zone (SIZ), covered by heavy sea ice with colder water, lower salinity, and dominated by diatoms; and (3) the Amundsen Sea Polynya (ASP), with high phytoplankton biomass dominated by Phaeocystis antarctica. Microzooplankton biomass and communities associated with phytoplankton biomass and composition varied among regions. Heterotrophic dinoflagellates (HDF) were the most significant grazers in the ASP and OZ, whereas ciliates co-dominated with HDF in the SIZ. Microzooplankton grazing impact is significant in our study area, particularly in the ASP, and consumed 55.4 - 107.6% of phytoplankton production (average 77.3%), with grazing impact increasing with prey and grazer biomass. This result implies that a significant proportion of the phytoplankton production is not removed by sinking or other grazers but grazed by microzooplankton. Compared with diatom-based systems, Phaeocystis-based production would be largely remineralized and/or channeled through the microbial food web through microzooplankton grazing. In these waters the major herbivorous fate of phytoplankton is likely mediated by the microzooplankton population. Our study confirms the importance of herbivorous protists in the planktonic ecosystems of high latitudes. In conclusion, microzooplankton herbivory may be a driving force controlling phytoplankton growth in early summer in the Amundsen Sea, particularly in the ASP.
DOI
10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.06.001
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