Journal article

Phytoplankton communities and acclimation in a cyclonic eddy in the southwest Indian Ocean

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Publication Details

Author list: Barlow R, Lamont T, Gibberd MJ, Airs R, Jacobs L, Britz K

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers


Volume number: 124

Start page: 18

End page: 30

Total number of pages: 13

ISSN: 0967-0637


A study of phytoplankton in a cyclonic eddy was undertaken in the Mozambique Basin between Madagascar and southern Africa during austral winter. CHEMTAX analysis of pigment data indicated that the community comprised mainly haptophytes and diatoms, with Prochlorococcus, prasinophytes and pelagophytes also being prominent to the east and west of the eddy. There was little difference in community structure, chlorophyll specific absorption [a*(ph)(440)] and pigment:TChla ratios between the surface and the sub-surface chlorophyll maximum (SCM), reflecting acclimation to fluctuating light conditions in a well mixed upper layer. Values for a*(Ph)(440) were low for diatom dominance, high where prokaryote proportion was high, and intermediate for flagellate dominated communities. Chlorophyll c and fucoxasithin:TChla ratios were elevated over most of the eddy, while 19'-hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin ratios increased in the eastern and western sectors. In a community comprising mainly flagellates and Prochlorococcus to the west of the eddy, there was high a*(ph)(440) at the surface and elevated ratios for divinyl chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and 19'-hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin at the SCM. An increase in diadinoxanthin:TChla ratios and a decline in the quantum efficiency of photochemistry in PSII under high light conditions, indicated some photoprotection and photoinhibition at the surface even in a well mixed environment. Diadinoxanthin was the main photoprotective carotenoid within the eddy, while zeaxanthin was the dominant photoprotective pigment outside the eddy. The results of this study will be useful inputs into appropriate remote sensing models for estimating primary production and the size class distribution of phytoplankton in eddies in the southwest Indian Ocean.


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Last updated on 2018-09-03 at 11:38