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Seasonal variation of particulate organic carbon, dissolved organic carbon and the contribution of microbial communities to the live particulate organic carbon in a shallow near-bottom ecosystem at the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea

Ribes, M.; Coma, R.; Gili, JM
1999
J Plank Res
21
1077-1100
Microbial planktonic communities (i.e. bacteria and protozoa), phytoplankton, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) were seasonally examined at Medes Islands (Northwestern Mediterranean) to assess their variation in abundance and composition throughout the year in a near-bottom littoral ecosystem. From October 1995 to November 1996, samples were collected between two and six times per month at 0.5 m above the bottom. Mean DOC and POC values throughout the year were 2560 180 (SE) and 387 ± 35 g C l-1, respectively. All year, detrital organic carbon (detrital=total POC - live carbon) represented the main POC fraction, and mean live carbon was 24 ± 9 g C l-1. Winter and spring had maximum values of POC, and spring and summer had maximum values of DOC. Heterotrophic bacteria, with a mean abundance of 5.16 ± 0.08 x 105 cells ml-1, were the main contributor to live carbon (26 ± 7%). During winter, heterotrophic bacterial biomass decreased 40% due to a decrease in mean biovolume per cell. Synechococcus sp. and Prochlorococcus sp. abundance were 2.24 ± 0.09 x 104 and 1.05 ± 0.07 x 104 cells ml-1, respectively. However, while Synechococcus sp. were present all year, Prochlorococcus sp. were not observed from April to July. Mean phytoplankton (i.e. diatoms and dinoflagellates) abundance was 2.06 ± 0.40 x 104 cells l-1 with biomass at a maximum during the winter months, the period with the lowest temperature and the highest nutrient concentration. The size composition of live carbon showed two clearly distinct periods: from December to March, live carbon was dominated in biomass by microplankton, while from April to November, pico- and nanoplankton cells were dominant. Overall, the dynamics of the near-bottom planktonic communities was characterized by a low biomass of heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria, phytoplankton and ciliates in contrast to previous water column studies. This pattern and the high temporal heterogeneity of the different planktonic communities are discussed in relation to the physical and chemical characteristics of the environment, as well as to the potential role that benthic communities may be exerting in the control of the near-bottom planktonic communities.
near-bottom, benthos, plankton depletion
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