The trophic role of mesozooplankton at 47°N, 20°W during the North Atlantic Bloom Experiment

H G DAM, C A MILLER, Sigrun Jonasdottir

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The biomass and grazing rates of three size classes of mesozooplankton-0.2-0.5 mm (small), 0.5-1.0 mm (medium) and 1.0-2.0 mm (large)-were quantified in the vicinity of 47-degrees-N, 20-degrees-W, from 25 April to 7 May (leg 4) and from 18 to 31 May 1989 (leg 5) as part of the North Atlantic Bloom Experiment (NABE) of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS). Biomass was inversely related to body size, with the small size fraction accounting for > 50% of the entire mesozooplankton biomass. Diel differences in biomass, however, were directly related to body size, indicating that vertical migration became more pronounced as the size of the animals increased. Total zooplankton biomass increased by almost a factor of 3 from the beginning to the end of the study. The average carbon-weight of individuals increased six-fold from leg 4 to leg 5 of the study. Carbon-specific rates of phytoplankton ingestion were (1) inversely related to body size; (2) greater at night for all size fractions; and (3) generally greater on leg 4 than on leg 5, particularly for the small size fraction. Grazing was dominated by the small size fraction (66% of the total grazing) on leg 4 and by the medium size fraction (44% of the total grazing) on leg 5. The removal of the daily primary production by mesozooplankton was not different from leg 4 to leg 5, averaging 2.7% day-1 (range 0.6-5.2% day-1). Comparisons of (1) estimated metabolic rates and (2) measured nitrogen excretion rates with daily rations of carbon and nitrogen, respectively, for zooplankton suggest that a phytoplankton diet only contributed about 50% of the daily carbon and nitrogen rations of animals. We hypothesize that mesozooplankton fecal pellets contributed <5% of the POC flux out of the euphotic zone measured with particle traps. However, we estimate that during leg 5, the active flux of dissolved nitrogen out of the euphotic zone due to mesozooplankton diel vertical migration was 26% of the passive PON flux.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)197-212
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


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