Microzooplankton Grazing in the Eastern Bering Sea in Summer
Dilution experiments to estimate microzooplankton grazing on phytoplankton were conducted during the summers of 2008, 2009, and 2010 in the Eastern Bering Sea as part of the BEST-BSIERP integrated ecosystem project. All three summers followed cold springs in the Bering Sea. Average microzooplankton grazing coefficients were relatively similar among regions, ranging from 0.16 to 0.34 d−1 in simulated in situ incubations with mixed-layer water collected from the depth of the 55% Io isolume. In Off Shelf and Outer Shelf domains, microzooplankton consumed 67–78% of phytoplankton daily growth but in the Middle and Inner Shelf domains, microzooplankton grazing exceeded phytoplankton daily growth. Regional estimates of microzooplankton ingestion of phytoplankton carbon ranged from 4.4 to 11.0 µg C d−1, with highest ingestion in the Off Shelf, Outer Shelf, and Alaska Peninsula regions and, lower ingestion in the Middle Shelf and Inner Shelf regions. On the northern Middle Shelf, a deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) occurred at most stations. Grazing coefficients in the DCM were similar in magnitude to coefficients in the corresponding mixed layer. However, because of the higher phytoplankton biomass in the DCM, estimated microzooplankton ingestion and secondary production per liter were higher in the DCM than in the mixed layer. Measurements of photosynthetic quantum yields (Fv/Fm) in whole seawater and diluted treatments indicated that with some plankton assemblages, dilution had a negative effect on phytoplankton physiology and could have compromised their growth rates. This could have also resulted in an underestimation of microzooplankton grazing. Nevertheless, it is clear that microzooplankton grazing consumed most of the phytoplankton production in summer, and that microzooplankton were an important link in food webs supporting larger zooplankton and in carbon flow in the Eastern Bering Sea.
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Also Published In
- Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography