, Volume 142, Issue 1, pp 309-325

Environmental influences on long-term variability in marine plankton

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The major patterns of geographical and seasonal variability of the plankton of the north-east Atlantic and the North Sea are described to provide the background to a presentation of the dominant patterns of year-to-year fluctuations in the abundance of the plankton of the area for the period 1948 to 1984. A feature of the variability is a marked similarity both between species and between areas. The main pattern of year-to-year change has the form of a quasi linear downward trend in abundance with, superimposed on this, an element of variability with a periodicity of about three years. There is a complex relationship between the plankton and an estimate of changes in the frequency of westerly weather which can be interpreted in terms of influences acting over limited periods of the seasonal cycle coupled with persistence in the stocks of zooplankton. Relationships between year-to-year variations in the abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton can be interpreted in terms of a response by the zooplankton to variations in food supply coupled with feed-back to the phytoplankton involving in situ nutrient regeneration.