Decadal basin-scale changes in diatoms, dinoflagellates, and phytoplankton color across the North Atlantic

Leterme, S. C., M. Edwards, L. Seuront, M. J. Attrill, P. C. Reid, A. W. G. John

Limnol. Oceanogr., 50(4), 2005, 1244-1253 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.4.1244

ABSTRACT: The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey has been used to characterize phytoplankton and zooplankton space-time dynamics in the North Sea since 1931 and in the North Atlantic since 1939. Phytoplankton biomass is assessed from these samples by visual assessment of the green color of the silk mesh, the Phytoplankton Color Index (PCI), and the total count of diatoms and dinoflagellates. Species with a frequency of occurrence greater than 1% in the samples are used as indicator species of the community. We investigated (1) long-term fluctuations of phytoplankton biomass, total diatoms, and total dinoflagellates; (2) geographical variation of patterns; (3) the relationship between phytoplankton and climate forcing in the North Atlantic CPR samples; (4) the relative contribution of diatoms and dinoflagellates to the PCI; and (5) the fluctuations of the dominant species over the period of survey to provide more information on the processes linking climate to changes in the phytoplankton community. As a result of the differences in microscopic analysis methods prior to 1958, our analyses were conducted for the period ranging from 1958 to 2002. The North Atlantic was divided into six regions identified through bathymetric criteria and separated along a North-South axis. Based on 12 monthly time series, we demonstrate increasing trends in PCI and total dinoflagellates and a decrease in total diatoms.

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