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The distribution and vertical flux of fecal pellets from large zooplankton in Monterey bay and coastal California

TitleThe distribution and vertical flux of fecal pellets from large zooplankton in Monterey bay and coastal California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDagg M.J, Jackson G.A, Checkley DM
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
Date Published2014/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0967-0637
Accession NumberWOS:000345820100006
Keywordsbiogenic carbon; euphausia-pacifica; Euphausiid; fecal pellets; marine planktonic copepod; northern barents sea; oithona-similis; organic-carbon; particle-flux; particulate matter; Retention efficiency; sinking rates; sub-arctic pacific; Vertical flux

We sampled zooplankton and fecal pellets in the upper 200 m of Monterey Bay and nearby coastal regions in California, USA. On several occasions, we observed high concentrations of large pellets that appeared to be produced during night-time by dielly migrating euphausiids. High concentrations of pellets were found in near-surface waters only when euphausiids co-occurred with high concentrations of large (> 10 mu m) phytoplankton. Peak concentrations of pellets at mid-depth (100 or 150 m) during the day were consistent with the calculated sinking speeds of pellets produced near the surface at night. At these high flux locations (HI group), pellet concentrations declined below mid-depth. In contrast, at locations where the phytoplankton assemblage was dominated by small phytoplankton cells (< 10 mu m), pellet production and flux were low (LO group) whether or not euphausiid populations were high. Protozooplankton concentrations did not affect this pattern. We concluded that the day and night differences in pellet concentration and flux in the HI profiles were mostly due to sinking of dielly-pulsed inputs in the surface layer, and that small zooplankton (Oithona, Oncaea), heterotrophic dinoflagellates, and bacterial activity probably caused some pellet degradation or consumption below 100 m. We estimated that consumption of sinking pellets by large copepods was insignificant. High fluxes of pellets were episodic because they required both high concentrations of large phytoplankton and large stocks of euphausiids. Under these conditions, flux events overwhelmed retention mechanisms, resulting in large exports of organic matter from the upper 200 m. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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