, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 167-178

Diel oscillations of the photosynthesis-irradiance (P-I ) relationship in natural assemblages of phytoplankton

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Abstract

Diel oscillations in the photosynthesis-irradiance (P-I) relationship are described for marine phytoplankton assemblages at 6 stations in an upwelling area off the southern California coast (USA) between May and August 1980. The initial slope (α) and asymptote (P max) of P-I curves changed significantly over the day; both parameters were in phase and had similar changes in amplitude. The diel oscillations in photosynthesis appeared unrelated to changes in chlorophyll a concentrations. Amplitudes of daily variations in photosynthesis ranged from approximately 3 to 9, as measured by the maximum to minimum ratio for photosynthetic capacity (P max). Diatom-rich samples collected during an upwelling event and those dominated by dinoflagellates both had midday to early afternoon maxima in α and P max. Samples from other locations had peak photosynthetic activity later in the afternoon. The relationship between α and P max was consistent in all phytoplankton samples analyzed, with a surprisingly high correlation considering the spatial and temporal scales encompassed in this study. These results indicate that the photosynthesis-irradiance (P-I) relationship is time-dependent and, moreover, that changes in α and P max are closely coupled for a variety of natural phytoplankton assemblages.