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Laser fluorescence analysis of phytoplankton across a frontal zone in the California Current ecosystem

Landry, Michael R.; Chekalyuk, Alexander M.; Goericke, Ralf; Taylor, Andrew G.; Hafez, Mark A.

Spatial variability of chlorophyll, phycobiliproteins, chromophoric dissolved organic matter and variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) was analyzed across a deep-water density front in the Southern California Current Ecosystem using an Advanced Laser Fluorometer (ALF) calibrated to assess chlorophyll concentration (Cchl), total autotrophic carbon (AC) and Synechococcus carbon biomass (SYN). Three distinct autotrophic assemblages were identified. Fluorescence was found to be three to four times higher in cooler mesotrophic waters north of the front than in warm oligotrophic waters to the south. Northern waters were distinguished by a shallow pigment maximum dominated by a blue-water type of Synechococcus and by the presence of green-water Synechococcus and cryptophytes; only blue-water Synechococcus were detected at lower concentration south of the front. The highest Cchl and AC values, accompanied by elevated Fv/Fm and chlorophyll fluorescence per unit of Cchl, and minimal Synechococcus abundance, were found directly at the front in a 20–40 m deep layer dominated by diatoms. The covariation of Fv/Fm with nitrate concentration in this layer, along with the structural changes in the phytoplankton community, suggest that it had been generated by in situ processes rather than advection. Strong structural responses to the local hydrography were also revealed by high-frequency underway ALF surface sampling, which detected an abrupt transition from low to high SYN on the northern side of a sharp salinity gradient at the front. Synechococcus-specific phycoerythrin fluorescence (FPE12) and SYN were highly correlated in surface waters (R2= 0.95), while FPE12:SYN gradually increased with depth. Strong relationships were found for chlorophyll fluorescence versus Cchl (R2= 0.95) and AC (R2= 0.79).



Also Published In

Journal of Plankton Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
September 25, 2012