Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 10, pp 2033–2052 | Cite as

Seasonal succession, distribution, and diversity of planktonic protists in relation to hydrography of the Godthåbsfjord system (SW Greenland)

  • D. W. KrawczykEmail author
  • L. Meire
  • C. Lopes
  • T. Juul-Pedersen
  • J. Mortensen
  • C. L. Li
  • T. Krogh
Original Paper


High-latitude fjord environments are undergoing dynamic seasonal changes, affecting spatio-temporal patterns in planktonic abundances. To investigate how physical gradients impact sub-Arctic planktonic protists (> 20 μm), a seasonal transect study was performed in 2013 during three periods of planktonic succession: spring, summer, and autumn. The samples were collected from the glacier-fjord-ocean transect in SW Greenland using two complementary sampling methods, i.e. net hauls (20-μm net) and Niskin bottles. The key drivers of the distribution of planktonic groups and dominant taxa were hydrographic properties (defined as ‘time’, salinity, and temperature) reflecting the area’s seasonally changing circulation system. Cold and relatively saline waters in spring favoured the single haptophyte species Phaeocystis cf. pouchetii, while in summer, fresher waters influenced by glacial discharge favoured diatoms, followed by dinoflagellates and predatory ciliates in autumn. Our findings reveal a monodominant structure among the planktonic protists observed in each key sub-region and in each season. (1) Gedaniella boltonii (spring) was associated with inner fjord upwelling, (2) Chaetoceros sp. (summer) and Chaetoceros cf. socialis (autumn) were linked to ‘glacial meltwater’ circulation in the main fjord, and (3) Thalassiosira poroseriata (summer) and Skeletonema sp. (autumn) characterized warm and relatively saline offshore waters influenced by the West Greenland Current. The observed spatio-temporal patterns were linked to changes in hydrographic regimes driven by the interplay between the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and inflows of offshore, Atlantic-sourced waters.


Diatoms Haptophytes Phytoplankton blooms Seasonal succession Greenland ice sheet Sub-arctic fjord West Greenland Current 



We wish to thank the crew of R/V Sanna for field assistance. We express our gratitude to Andrzej Witkowski for taxonomic expertise of the new diatom species. The MarineBasic-Nuuk programme, part of the Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program, was funded by the Danish Energy Agency (Dancea) as part of its climate support programme for the Arctic. We acknowledge the financial support received from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, the Canadian Excellence Research Chair (CERC) program, the Arctic Science Partnership (ASP) and the ArcticNet Networks of Centres of Excellence programs. We want to thank the three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and the University of Copenhagen for language improvement. This publication is a contribution to the MarineBasic-Nuuk programme and to the Greenland Climate Research Centre.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

300_2018_2343_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 47 kb)
300_2018_2343_MOESM2_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. W. Krawczyk
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Meire
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. Lopes
    • 4
    • 5
  • T. Juul-Pedersen
    • 1
  • J. Mortensen
    • 1
  • C. L. Li
    • 6
  • T. Krogh
    • 1
  1. 1.Greenland Climate Research CentreGreenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  2. 2.Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea ResearchUtrecht UniversityYersekeNetherlands
  3. 3.Arctic Research CentreAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Instituto Português do Mar e da AtmosferaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Centro de Ciências do MarFaroPortugal
  6. 6.Palaeoceanology Unit, Faculty of GeosciencesUniversity of SzczecinSzczecinPoland

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