Polar Biology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 155–162 | Cite as

Phytoplankton dynamics in the stratified water column of Lake Bonney, Antarctica

I. Biomass and productivity during the winter-spring transition
  • Michael P. Lizotte
  • Thomas R. Sharp
  • John C. Priscu
Original Paper


Phytoplankton populations in perennially ice-covered Lake Bonney, Antarctica grow in a unique non-turbulent environment. The absence of turbulence generated by winds or major streams, combined with strong vertical gradients in temperature and nutrients, create vertically stratified environmental conditions that support three discrete phytoplankton populations in the east lobe of this lake. Phytoplankton biomass and photosynthesis were measured in the east lobe of Lake Bonney during the winter-spring transicion (September) to mid-summer (January). During this period, irradiance beneath the ice increased from 0.03 to 1.9 mol quanta m−2 d−1. Chlorophylla concentrations ranged from 0.03 to 3.8 μl−1 within the trophogenic zone (just beneath the permanent ice cover to 20 m) and photosynthesis ranged from below detection to 3.2 μg Cl−1 d−1. Our results indicate: (1) phytoplankton photosynthesis began in late winter (before 9 September, our earliest sampling date); (2) maxima for phytoplankton biomass and production developed sequentially in time from the top to the bottom of the trophogenic zone, following the seasoral increase in irradiance; and (3) the highest photosynthetic efficiencies occurred in early spring, then decreased over the remainder of the phytoplankton growth season. The spring decrease in photosynthetic rates for shallower phytoplankton appeared to be related to nutrient availability, while photosynthesis in the deeper populations was solely lightdependent.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Lizotte
    • 1
  • Thomas R. Sharp
    • 1
  • John C. Priscu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

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