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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 65(6)

Primary productivity induced by iron and nitrogen in the Tasman Sea: an overview of the PINTS expedition

C. S. Hassler A B C I , K. R. Ridgway B , A. R. Bowie D E , E. C. V. Butler B H , L. A. Clementson B , M. A. Doblin A , D. M. Davies D , C. Law F , P. J. Ralph A , P. van der Merwe D , R. Watson B and M. J. Ellwood G

A Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.
B CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Research Flagship, and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.
C Institute F.-A. Forel, University of Geneva, 10 rte de Suisse, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland.
D Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
E Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
F National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), 301 Evans Bay Parade, Greta Point, PO Box 14-901, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6022, New Zealand.
G Research School of Earth Sciences, Building 61, Mills Road, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
H Present address: Australian Institute of Marine Science, Arafura Timor Research Facility, PO Box 41775, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia.
I Corresponding author: Christel.Hassler@unige.ch

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(6) 517-537 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13137
Submitted: 2 June 2013  Accepted: 1 October 2013   Published: 7 May 2014


 
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Abstract

The Tasman Sea and the adjacent subantarctic zone (SAZ) are economically important regions, where the parameters controlling the phytoplankton community composition and carbon fixation are not yet fully resolved. Contrasting nutrient distributions, as well as phytoplankton biomass, biodiversity and productivity were observed between the North Tasman Sea and the SAZ. In situ photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM), dissolved and particulate nutrients, iron biological uptake, and nitrogen and carbon fixation were used to determine the factor-limiting phytoplankton growth and productivity in the North Tasman Sea and the SAZ. Highly productive cyanobacteria dominated the North Tasman Sea. High atmospheric nitrogen fixation and low nitrate dissolved concentrations indicated that non-diazotroph phytoplankton are nitrogen limited. Deck-board incubations also suggested that, at depth, iron could limit eukaryotes, but not cyanobacteria in that region. In the SAZ, the phytoplankton community was dominated by a bloom of haptophytes. The low productivity in the SAZ was mainly explained by light limitation, but nitrogen, silicic acid as well as iron were all depleted to the extent that they could become co-limiting. This study illustrates the challenge associated with identification of the limiting nutrient, as it varied between phytoplankton groups, depths and sites.

Additional keywords: algae, bioavailability, limitation, nutrients, subantarctic zone.


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