The uptake of silica during the spring bloom in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean

Brown, Louise, Richard Sanders, Graham Savidge, Cathy H. Lucas

Limnol. Oceanogr., 48(5), 2003, 1831-1845 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2003.48.5.1831

ABSTRACT: A full understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of silica in the North Atlantic is hampered by a lack of estimates of silica uptake by phytoplankton. We applied the 32Si radiotracer incubation technique to determine silica uptake rates at 10 sites during the UK-(Natural Environment Research Council) Faroes-Iceland-Scotland hydrographic and environmental survey (FISHES) cruise in the Northeast Atlantic, May 2001. Column silica uptake rates ranged between 6 and 166 mmol Si m-2 d-1; this data set was integrated with concurrent hydrographic, chemical, and primary productivity data to explain these changes in silica uptake in terms of the progress of the spring bloom. In order to interpret data covering a relatively large spatial and temporal scale, we used mean photic zone silica concentration as a proxy time-series measure of diatom bloom progression. Both absolute and specific silica uptake rates were highest at dissolved silica concentrations >2 µmol L-1. Si and C uptake were vertically decoupled at those stations where surface silica was strongly depleted. Absolute primary productivity was not strongly correlated with dissolved silica concentrations, owing to either exhaustion of silica at diatom-dominated stations or to dominance of the community by other phytoplankton. Silica uptake as a function of increased substrate concentration was linear up to 25 µmol L-1; we consider some possible reasons for the nonhyperbolic response.

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