Marine Biology

, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 131–142 | Cite as

Phytoplankton carbon dynamics during a winter-spring diatom bloom in an enclosed marine ecosystem: primary production, biomass and loss rates

  • A. A. Keller
  • U. Riebesell


Phytoplankton production, standing crop, and loss processes (respiration, sedimentation, grazing by zooplankton, and excretion) were measured on a daily basis during the growth, dormancy and decline of a winter-spring diatom bloom in a large-scale (13 m3) marine mesocosm in 1987. Carbonspecific rates of production and biomass change were highly correlated whereas production and loss rates were unrelated over the experimental period when the significant changes in algal biomass characteristic of phytoplankton blooms were occurring. The observed decline in diatom growth rates was caused by nutrient limitation. Daily phytoplankton production rates calculated from the phytoplankton continuity equation were in excellent agreement with rates independently determined using standard 14C techniques. A carbon budget for the winter bloom indicated that 82.4% of the net daytime primary production was accounted for by measured loss processes, 1.3% was present as standing crop at the end of the experiment, and 16.3% was unexplained. Losses via sedimentation (44.8%) and nighttime phytoplankton respiration (24.1%) predominated, while losses due to zooplankton grazing (10.7%) and nighttime phytoplankton excretion (2.8%) were of lesser importance. A model simulating daily phytoplankton biomass was developed to demonstrate the relative importance of the individual loss processes.


Biomass Phytoplankton Algal Biomass Standing Crop Nutrient Limitation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Keller
    • 1
  • U. Riebesell
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandNarragansettUSA

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