A mesoscale study of phytoplankton assemblages around the South Shetland Islands (Antarctica)

TitleA mesoscale study of phytoplankton assemblages around the South Shetland Islands (Antarctica)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGarcia-Munoz C., Lubian L.M, Garcia C.M, Marrero-Diaz A., Sangra P., Vernet M
JournalPolar Biology
Date Published2013/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0722-4060
Accession NumberWOS:000321975200004
Keywordsa; atlantic sector; austral summer; chemtax analysis; community structure; Fronts; hplc pigment signatures; ice-zone west; masses; maxima dcms; mesoscale; mixed-layer depth; phytoplankton; Small diatoms; south shetland islands; water; water masses; western bransfield strait

Phytoplankton assemblages around the South Shetland Islands (SSI) were closely related to mesoscale physical features, based on high spatial resolution sampling performed during the summer of 2010. Sampling was done in 8 transects with stations 9 km apart. Phytoplankton groups were described using flow cytometry, FlowCAM and HPLC/CHEMTAX pigment analysis. Nanophytoplankton (2-20 mu m) was predominant throughout the study area, which was dominated by small diatoms. They were distributed along the stratified waters of the SSI shelf and in the centre of the Bransfield Strait where an anticyclonic eddy was detected, established between two frontal structures [Bransfield Front and Peninsula Front (PF)]. The highest concentrations correlated with mid-to-high temperatures (1.07 A degrees C) and mid-salinities (34.03) corresponding with Transitional Bellinghausen Water stations. Haptophytes distribution co-varied with small diatoms but also appeared in those vertical mixed stations with Transitional Zonal Water with Weddell Sea influence. A shift from smaller to larger diatoms was detected at the ice edge in the Antarctic Sound. Cryptophytes were restricted to stratified stations of the SSI shelf and those associated with the PF, while small prasinophytes were the only group occupying deeper and colder waters of the Drake Passage, beneath the Antarctic Surface Water, north of a narrow frontal region described here for the first time (Shetland Front). Phytoplankton assemblages around the SSI were strongly connected with the Bransfield Current System, supporting a clockwise circulation around the archipelago. The Bransfield Current System components are permanent structures during the austral summer suggesting that the distribution of phytoplankton, which responds to these structures, must also be a quasi-permanent feature.

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