Does Phaeocystis spp. contribute significantly to vertical export of organic carbon?

  • Marit ReigstadEmail author
  • Paul Wassmann
Original Paper


Phaeocystis spp. cell and colony mass fluxes and their contribution to the vertical particulate organic carbon (POC) export from a wide range of stations were quantified by short-term sediment traps. The compilation of available data, ranging from polar to sub-arctic and boreal regions, revealed that Phaeocystis colonial and single cells frequently are observed in shallow sediment traps at 30–50 m depth (average of 7 ± 11% of POC export). A strong vertical export decline between 40 m and 100 m diminished the contribution of Phaeocystis spp. cell carbon to vertical export of POC to only 3 ± 2% at 100 m depth, with two exceptions (deeper mixed stations). Estimates of potential corresponding mucus contribution increased the average Phaeocystis spp. contribution to <5% of POC export. The vertical flux attenuation efficiency is higher for Phaeocystis spp. than for diatoms. The overall contribution of Phaeocystis spp. to vertical carbon export based on direct investigations of vertical organic carbon export is small.


Carbon flux Cells and mucus Phaeocystis Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) Vertical export 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian College of Fishery ScienceUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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