The Baltic Sea spring phytoplankton bloom in a changing climate: an experimental approach
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The response of the Baltic Sea spring bloom was studied in mesocosm experiments, where temperatures were elevated up to 6°C above the present-day sea surface temperature of the spring bloom season. Four of the seven experiments were carried out at different light levels (32–202 Wh m−2 at the start of the experiments) in the different experimental years. In one further experiment, the factors light and temperature were crossed, and in one experiment, the factors density of overwintering zooplankton and temperature were crossed. Overall, there was a slight temporal acceleration of the phytoplankton spring bloom, a decline of peak biomass and a decline of mean cell size with warming. The temperature influence on phytoplankton bloom timing, biomass and size structure was qualitatively highly robust across experiments. The dependence of timing, biomass, and size structure on initial conditions was tested by multiple regression analysis of the y-temperature regressions with the candidate independent variables initial light, initial phytoplankton biomass, initial microzooplankton biomass, and initial mesozooplankton (=copepod) biomass. The bloom timing predicted for mean temperatures (5.28°C) depended on light. The peak biomass showed a strong positive dependence on light and a weaker negative dependence on initial copepod density. Mean phytoplankton cell size predicted for the mean temperature responded positively to light and negatively to copepod density. The anticipated mismatch between phytoplankton supply and food demand by newly hatched copepod nauplii occurred only under the combination of low light and warm temperatures. The analysis presented here confirms earlier conclusions about temperature responses that are based on subsets of our experimental series. However, only the comprehensive analysis across all experiments highlights the importance of the factor light.
KeywordsBiomass Phytoplankton Phytoplankton Biomass Spring Bloom Spring Peak
The experiments reported here were funded via the priority program 1162 (“AQUASHIFT”) by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Technical assistance by Thomas Hansen, Cordula Meyer and Bente Gardeler are gratefully acknowledged.
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