Predicting plankton net community production in the Atlantic Ocean

Pablo Serret, Carol Robinson, Emilio Fernández, Eva Tiera, Gavin Tilstone, Valesca Pérez

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We present, test and implement two contrasting models to predict euphotic zone net community production (NCP), which are based on 14C primary production (PO14CP) to NCP relationships over two latitudinal (ca. 30°S–45°N) transects traversing highly productive and oligotrophic provinces of the Atlantic Ocean (NADR, CNRY, BENG, NAST-E, ETRA and SATL, Longhurst et al., 1995 [An estimation of global primary production in the ocean from satellite radiometer data. Journal of Plankton Research 17, 1245–1271]). The two models include similar ranges of PO14CP and community structure, but differ in the relative influence of allochthonous organic matter in the oligotrophic provinces. Both models were used to predict NCP from PO14CP measurements obtained during 11 local and three seasonal studies in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and from satellite-derived estimates of PO14CP. Comparison of these NCP predictions with concurrent in situ measurements and geochemical estimates of NCP showed that geographic and annual patterns of NCP can only be predicted when the relative trophic importance of local vs. distant processes is similar in both modeled and predicted ecosystems. The system-dependent ability of our models to predict NCP seasonality suggests that trophic-level dynamics are stronger than differences in hydrodynamic regime, taxonomic composition and phytoplankton growth. The regional differences in the predictive power of both models confirm the existence of biogeographic differences in the scale of trophic dynamics, which impede the use of a single generalized equation to estimate global marine plankton NCP. This paper shows the potential of a systematic empirical approach to predict plankton NCP from local and satellite-derived P estimates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-953
Number of pages13
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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