Effects of phytoplankton community on production, size, and export of large aggregates: A world-ocean analysis

Guidi, Lionel, Lars Stemmann, George A. Jackson, Frédéric Ibanez, Hervé Claustre, Louis Legendre, Marc Picheral, Gabriel Gorsky

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(6), 2009, 1951-1963 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.6.1951

ABSTRACT: We recorded vertical profiles of size distributions of large particles (<100 µm) to a 1000-m depth in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and in the Mediterranean Sea with the Underwater Video Profiler. Of the 410 profiles used in our analysis, 193 also included temperature, salinity, and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-resolved pigments, which were used to characterize the size structure of the phytoplankton community. Classification analysis identified six clusters of vertical profiles of size distributions of particles. Each cluster was characterized by the size distribution of its particles in the mesopelagic layer and the change of the particle-size distribution with depth. Clusters with large particles in the mesopelagic layer corresponded to surface waters dominated by microphytoplankton, and those with small particles corresponded to surface waters dominated by picophytoplankton. We estimated the mass flux at 400 m using a relationship between particle size and mass flux. Principal-component regression analysis showed that 68% of the variance of the mass flux at 400 m was explained by the size structure of the phytoplankton community and integrated chlorophyll a in the euphotic zone. We found that coefficient k in the Martin power relationship, which describes the decrease in the vertical mass flux with depth, varies between 0.2 and 1.0 in the world ocean, and we provided an empirical relationship to derive k from the size structure of phytoplankton biomass in the euphotic zone. Biogeochemists and modelers could use that relationship to obtain a realistic description of the downward particle flux instead of using a constant k value as often done.

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