Mesozooplankton biomass and grazing in the Costa Rica Dome: amplifying variability through the plankton food web

TitleMesozooplankton biomass and grazing in the Costa Rica Dome: amplifying variability through the plankton food web
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDecima M, Landry MR, Stukel M.R, Lopez-Lopez L., Krause J.W
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Date Published2016/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0142-7873
Accession NumberWOS:000372874300011
Keywordscarbon; chlorophyll; eastern tropical pacific; efficiency; eqpac; food chain; gut; jgofs; OMZ; phytoplankton; secondary production; Synechococcus; trophic transfer; upwelling dome; vertical-distribution; Zooplankton

We investigated standing stocks and grazing rates of mesozooplankton assemblages in the Costa Rica Dome (CRD), an open-ocean upwelling ecosystem in the eastern tropical Pacific. While phytoplankton biomass in the CRD is dominated by picophytoplankton (<2-mu m cells) with especially high concentrations of Synechococcus spp., we found high mesozooplankton biomass (similar to 5 g dry weight m(-2)) and grazing impact (12-50% integrated water column chlorophyll a), indicative of efficient food web transfer from primary producers to higher levels. In contrast to the relative uniformity in water-column chlorophyll a and mesozooplankton biomass, variability in herbivory was substantial, with lower rates in the central dome region and higher rates in areas offset from the dome center. While grazing rates were unrelated to total phytoplankton, correlations with cyanobacteria (negative) and biogenic SiO2 production (positive) suggest that partitioning of primary production among phytoplankton sizes contributes to the variability observed in mesozooplankton metrics. We propose that advection of upwelled waters away from the dome center is accompanied by changes in mesozooplankton composition and grazing rates, reflecting small changes within the primary producers. Small changes within the phytoplankton community resulting in large changes in the mesozooplankton suggest that the variability in lower trophic level dynamics was effectively amplified through the food web.

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