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Environmental Effects on Mesozooplankton Size Structure and Export Flux at Station ALOHA, North Pacific Subtropical Gyre

TitleEnvironmental Effects on Mesozooplankton Size Structure and Export Flux at Station ALOHA, North Pacific Subtropical Gyre
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsValencia B., Decima M, Landry MR
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Date Published2018/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0886-6236
Accession NumberWOS:000426773600008
Keywordscommunity; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; equatorial pacific; Geology; inorganic nitrogen; marine planktonic copepods; Meteorology & Atmospheric; microbial food-web; sargasso sea; sciences; structure; time-series-station; tropical pacific; upwelling system; zooplankton vertical migration

Using size-fractionated mesozooplankton biomass data collected over 23 years (1994-2016) of increasing primary production (PP) at station ALOHA (A Long-Term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment), we evaluate how changing environmental conditions affect mesozooplankton size structure, trophic cycling, and export fluxes in the subtropical North Pacific. From generalized additive model analysis, size structure is significantly influenced by a nonlinear relationship with sea surface temperature that is mainly driven by the strong 1997-1998 El Nino and a positive and linear relationship with PP. Increasing PP has more strongly enhanced the biomass of smaller (0.2-0.5 mm) and larger (>5 mm) mesozooplankton, increasing evenness of the biomass spectra, while animals of 2-5 mm, the major size class for vertically migrating mesozooplankton, show no long-term trend. Measured PP is sufficient to meet feeding requirements that satisfy mesozooplankton respiration and growth rates, as determined by commonly used empirical relationships based on animal size and temperature, consistent with a tightly coupled food web with one intermediate level for protistan consumers. Estimated fecal pellet production suggests an enhanced contribution of mesozooplankton to passive particle export relative to the material collected in 150 m sediment traps. In contrast, the biomass of vertically migrants does not vary systematically with PP due to the varying responses of the different size classes. These results illustrate some complexities in understanding how varying environmental conditions can affect carbon cycling and export processes at the community level in open-ocean oligotrophic systems, which need to be confirmed and better understood by process-oriented mechanistic study.

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