Sinking jelly-carbon unveils potential environmental variability along a continental margin

TitleSinking jelly-carbon unveils potential environmental variability along a continental margin
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLebrato M., Molinero J.C, Cartes J.E, Lloris D., Melin F., Beni-Casadella L.
JournalPlos One
Date Published2013/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1932-6203
Accession NumberWOS:000328740300018
Keywordsalboran sea; algorithms; assemblages; deep-water; mass deposition; megafauna; mortality; phytoplankton; populations; pyrosoma

Particulate matter export fuels benthic ecosystems in continental margins and the deep sea, removing carbon from the upper ocean. Gelatinous zooplankton biomass provides a fast carbon vector that has been poorly studied. Observational data of a large-scale benthic trawling survey from 1994 to 2005 provided a unique opportunity to quantify jelly-carbon along an entire continental margin in the Mediterranean Sea and to assess potential links with biological and physical variables. Biomass depositions were sampled in shelves, slopes and canyons with peaks above 1000 carcasses per trawl, translating to standing stock values between 0.3 and 1.4 mg C m(2) after trawling and integrating between 30,000 and 175,000 m(2) of seabed. The benthopelagic jelly-carbon spatial distribution from the shelf to the canyons may be explained by atmospheric forcing related with NAO events and dense shelf water cascading, which are both known from the open Mediterranean. Over the decadal scale, we show that the jelly-carbon depositions temporal variability paralleled hydroclimate modifications, and that the enhanced jelly-carbon deposits are connected to a temperature-driven system where chlorophyll plays a minor role. Our results highlight the importance of gelatinous groups as indicators of large-scale ecosystem change, where jelly-carbon depositions play an important role in carbon and energy transport to benthic systems.

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