Evidence for a heterotrophic subtropical northeast Atlantic
Limnol. Oceanogr., 46(2), 2001, 425-428 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2001.46.2.0425
ABSTRACT: The mean (±SE) depth-integrated gross production (P) of 2,600 ± 271 mg O2 m-2 d-1 derived from a compilation of data from nine cruises conducted between 1991-2000 in the subtropical NE Atlantic was found to be significantly lower (t-test, P = 0.005, N = 33) than the mean (±SE) community respiration (R) of 3,821 ± 276 mg O2 m-2 d-1. Two-thirds of the stations investigated were heterotrophic, and the P/R ratio of the communities tended to increase as P increased, such that communities where P < 3,000 mg O2 m-2 d-1 tended to be heterotrophic. The tendency for R to exceed P (P/R , 1.0) was statistically significant (Wilcoxon ranked sign test, P < 0.05) in the upper and deep layers of the photic zone, with an overall balance between P and R at intermediate depths. These results provide evidence that the subtropical NE Atlantic is a heterotrophic ecosystem, where planktonic communities respire more organic carbon than they produce, thereby acting as net sources of CO2.