Seasonal microbial processes in a high-latitude fjord (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard) : I. Heterotrophic bacteria, picoplankton and nanoflagellates
Temporal dynamics of the microbial food web in the Barents Sea and adjacent water masses in the European Arctic are to a large extent unknown. Seasonal variation in stocks and production rates of heterotrophic bacteria and phototrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton and nanoflagellates was investigated in the upper 50 m of the highlatitude Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, during six field campaigns between March and December 2006. Heterotrophic bacteria, picoplankton and nanoflagellates contributed to ecosystem structure and function in all seasons. Activity within the microbial food web peaked during spring bloom in April, parallel to low abundances of mesozooplankton. In the nutrient-limited post-bloom scenario, an efficient microbial loop, fuelled by dissolved organic carbon from abundant mesozooplankton feeding on phytoplankton and protozooplankton, facilitated maximum integrated primary production rates. A tight microbial food web consisting of heterotrophic bacteria and phototrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton and nanoflagellates was found in the stratified water masses encountered in July and September. Microbial stocks and rates were low but persistent under winter conditions. Seasonal comparisons of microbial biomass and production revealed that structure and function of the microbial food web were fundamentally different during the spring bloom when compared with other seasons. While the microbial food web was in a regenerative mode most of the time, during the spring bloom, a microbial transfer mode represented a trophic link for organic carbon in time and space. The microbial food web’s ability to fill different functional roles in periods dominated by new and regenerated production may enhance the ecological flexibility of pelagic ecosystems in the present era of climate change.
This article is part of Lena Seuthe's doctoral thesis, which is available in Munin at http://hdl.handle.net/10037/3777
CitationPolar Biology 34(2011) nr. 5 s. 731-749
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