Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Spatial variability of phytoplankton in the Pacific western boundary currents during summer 2014

Yunyan Chen A B , Xiaoxia Sun A B C F , Mingliang Zhu A , Shan Zheng A , Yongquan Yuan D and Michel Denis E

A Jiao Zhou Bay Marine Ecosystem Research Station, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS), number 7 Nanhai Road, Qingdao 266071, China.

B University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China.

C Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental Science, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266071, China.

D Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 7 Nanhai Road, Qingdao 266071, China.

E Aix Marseille University, Université de Toulon, CNRS/INSU, IRD, Institut Méditerranén d’Océanologie, 163 avenue de Luminy, Case 901, F-13288 Marseille cedex 09, France.

F Corresponding author. Email: xsun@qdio.ac.cn

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16297
Submitted: 31 August 2016  Accepted: 23 December 2016   Published online: 16 March 2017

Abstract

The spatial distribution of phytoplankton was investigated during the summer of 2014 in two different regions of the Pacific western boundary current, namely the Warm Pool near the equator and the subtropical Kuroshio south area. Traditional approaches (size-fractionated chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) and microscopic analyses) combined with single-cell analysis (using a flow cytometer) were used to analyse the whole range of phytoplankton. Flow cytometry analysis resolved five clusters, two belonging to the pico-size fraction and three belonging to the nano-size fraction. Microscopy analysis revealed that the genera Coscinodiscus, Rhizosolenia, Chaetoceros and Ceratium were numerically dominant in the region studied. The lowest values of Chl-a, phytoplankton abundance and carbon biomass were found in the Kuroshio south area. Both Chl-a concentration data and flow cytometry analysis revealed that picophytoplankton were the predominant contributors to phytoplankton in the Pacific western boundary currents. Along the three transects during the summer cruise, Synechococcus and nanocyanobacteria-like organisms numerically dominated in surface waters with higher temperature. In contrast, eukaryotes were primarily distributed in subsurface waters with higher nutrients, especially in the eddy upwelling region mainly associated with the North Equatorial Counter Current. The vertical distribution of phytoplankton over the epipelagic layer reinforces the important role of currents in the north-western Pacific during summer.

Additional keywords: carbon biomass, flow cytometry, north-western Pacific.


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