Antarctic coastal microalgal primary production and photosynthesis
Primary production in coastal Antarctica is primarily contributed from three sources: sea ice algae, phytoplankton, and microphytobenthos. Compared to other eastern Antarctic sites, the sea ice microalgal biomass at Casey Station, in spring 2005 was relatively low, 3.84 ± 1.67 to 21.6 ± 13.3 mg chl-a m−2 but productive, 103–163 mg C m−2 day−1. The photosynthetic parameters, F v/F m and rETRmax, imply a community well-acclimated to the light climate of the benthic, water column, and sea ice habitats. Phytoplankton biomass was greatest in late spring (11.1 ± 0.920 μg chl-a l−1), which probably reflects input from the overlying sea ice. Lower biomass and depressed F v/F m values later in the season were probably due to nutrient limitation. Benthic microalgal biomass was consistently between 200 and 400 mg chl-a m−2 and production increased through into late summer (204 mg C m−2 day−1). After the sea ice broke out, the marine environment supported a small phytoplankton biomass and a large benthic microalgal biomass. Compared with previous studies, F v/F m values were relatively low but there was no evidence of photoinhibition. When sea ice was present, primary production of benthic microalgae was either very low or there was a net draw down of oxygen. The benthic microalgal community made a larger contribution to total primary production than the phytoplankton or sea ice algae at water depth less than approximately 5 m.
KeywordsPhytoplankton Phytoplankton Biomass Rapid Light Curve Rapid Light Curf Maximum Electron Transport Rate
Andrew McMinn and Peter Ralph acknowledge support from an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant. Logistic support was provided by the Australian Antarctic Division.
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