, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 242-269
Date: 27 May 2009

Main Species Characteristics of Phytoplankton Spring Blooms in NE Atlantic and Arctic Waters (68–80° N)

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Abstract

A compilation of phytoplankton species abundance data from the spring bloom along the northern Norwegian coast and in the Barents Sea shows that the quantitatively most important species are the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis pouchetii and the common cold water to temperate diatoms Chaetoceros socialis, Skeletonema costatum sensu lato, Fragilariopsis oceanica, Thalassiosira spp., Chaetoceros furcellatus, Chaetoceros compressus, Chaetoceros debilis and Bacterosira bathyomphala. The relative abundance of diatoms and Phaeocystis varied highly and apparently stochastically between years. P. pouchetii occurred during all stages of the spring bloom and sometimes completely dominated the phytoplankton community. Along the Norwegian coast, the importance of P. pouchetii increased northwards. The species composition in coastal fjords at 70° N is surprisingly similar to that of shelf waters in the Barents Sea (up to 80° N). An exception is S. costatum sensu lato which was seldom observed in Arctic waters. Small flagellates (<10 µm) other than dinoflagellates and P. pouchetii are also important among the Barents Sea spring phytoplankton. Associations of species seem rigid over time and are dominated by C. socialis and P. pouchetii in northern waters. Biogeographical categories of spring bloom species in relation to environmental conditions are discussed.