Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 77–88 | Cite as

Spring phytoplankton assemblages in the Southern Ocean between Australia and Antarctica

  • Elżbieta E. KopczyńskaEmail author
  • Nicolas Savoye
  • Frank Dehairs
  • Damien Cardinal
  • Marc Elskens
Original Paper


Variations of phytoplankton assemblages were studied in November–December 2001, in surface waters of the Southern Ocean along a transect between the Sub-Antarctic Zone (SAZ) and the Seasonal Ice Zone (SIZ; 46.9°–64.9°S; 142°–143°E; CLIVAR-SR3 cruise). Two regions had characteristic but different phytoplankton assemblages. Nanoflagellates(<20 μm) and pico-plankton (∼2 μm) occurred in similar concentrations along the transect, but were dominant in the SAZ, Sub-Antarctic Front (SAF), Polar Front Zone (PFZ) and the Inter-Polar Front Zone (IPFZ), (46.9°–56.9°S). Along the entire transect their average cell numbers in the upper 70 m of water column, varied from 3 × 105 to 1.1 × 106 cells l−1. Larger cells (>20 μm), diatoms and dinoflagellates, were more abundant in the Antarctic Zone-South (AZ-S) and the SIZ, (60.9°–64.9°S). In AZ-S and SIZ diatoms ranged between 2.7 × 105 and 1.2 × 106 cells l−1, dinoflagellates from 3.1 × 104 to 1.02 × 105 cells l−1. A diatom bloom was in progress in the AZ-S showing a peak of 1.8 × 106 cells l−1. Diatoms were dominated by Pseudo-nitzschia spp., Fragilariopsis spp., and Chaetoceros spp. Pseudo-nitzschia spp. outnumbered other diatoms in the AZ-S. Fragilaropsis spp. were most numerous in the SIZ. Dinoflagellates contained autotrophs (e.g. Prorocentrum) and heterotrophs (Gyrodinium/Gymnodinium, Protoperidinium). Diatoms and dinoflagellates contributed most to the cellular carbon: 11–25 and 17–124 μg C l−1, respectively. Small cells dominated in the northern region characterized by the lowest N-uptake and new production of the transect. Larger diatom cells were prevalent in the southern area with higher values of N-uptake and new production. Diatom and nanoflagellate cellular carbon contents were highly correlated with one another, with primary production, and productivity related parameters. They contributed up to 75% to the total autotrophic C biomass. Diatom carbon content was significantly correlated to nitrate uptake and particle export, but not to ammonium uptake, while flagellate carbon was well correlated to ammonium uptake, but not to export. Diatoms have contributed highly to particle export along the latitudinal transect, while flagellates played a minor role in the export.


Phytoplankton Microzooplankton Southern Ocean 



Authors thank the crew of the R/V Aurora Australis for assistance on board and Steve Rintoul as chief scientist. We are grateful to Brian Griffiths, Simon Wright, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and improvements on the manuscript. Work of E. Kopczyńska was partly supported by grant 2 PO4 F 024 26 of the Polish Committee for Scientific Research. Part of this work was supported by the BELSPO, PODOII Programme on Global Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Brussels, Belgium (Contracts EV/03/7A and EV/37/7C), and Vrije Universiteit Brussel grant GOA22. Shiptime was provided via Australia’s Antarctic Science Program grant #1343.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elżbieta E. Kopczyńska
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicolas Savoye
    • 2
    • 4
  • Frank Dehairs
    • 2
  • Damien Cardinal
    • 3
  • Marc Elskens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Antarctic BiologyPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of Analytical and Environmental ChemistryVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Geology and MineralogyRoyal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium
  4. 4.OASU, UMR EPOC, Université Bordeaux 1, CNRS, Station Marine d’ArcachonArcachonFrance

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