Decima, M., Landry, M. R., Stukel, M. R., Lopez-Lopez, L., & Krause, J. W. (2016). Mesozooplankton biomass and grazing in the Costa Rica Dome: amplifying variability through the plankton food web.
J Plankton Res, 38(2), 317–330.
Abstract: We investigated standing stocks and grazing rates of mesozooplankton assemblages in the Costa Rica Dome (CRD), an open-ocean upwelling ecosystem in the eastern tropical Pacific. While phytoplankton biomass in the CRD is dominated by picophytoplankton (<2-microm cells) with especially high concentrations of Synechococcus spp., we found high mesozooplankton biomass ( approximately 5 g dry weight m-2) and grazing impact (12-50% integrated water column chlorophyll a), indicative of efficient food web transfer from primary producers to higher levels. In contrast to the relative uniformity in water-column chlorophyll a and mesozooplankton biomass, variability in herbivory was substantial, with lower rates in the central dome region and higher rates in areas offset from the dome center. While grazing rates were unrelated to total phytoplankton, correlations with cyanobacteria (negative) and biogenic SiO2 production (positive) suggest that partitioning of primary production among phytoplankton sizes contributes to the variability observed in mesozooplankton metrics. We propose that advection of upwelled waters away from the dome center is accompanied by changes in mesozooplankton composition and grazing rates, reflecting small changes within the primary producers. Small changes within the phytoplankton community resulting in large changes in the mesozooplankton suggest that the variability in lower trophic level dynamics was effectively amplified through the food web.
Landry, M. R., Selph, K. E., Decima, M., Gutierrez-Rodriguez, A., Stukel, M. R., Taylor, A. G., et al. (2016). Phytoplankton production and grazing balances in the Costa Rica Dome.
J Plankton Res, 38(2), 366–379.
Abstract: We investigated phytoplankton production rates and grazing fates in the Costa Rica Dome (CRD) during summer 2010 based on dilution depth profiles analyzed by flow cytometry and pigments and mesozooplankton grazing assessed by gut fluorescence. Three community production estimates, from 14C uptake (1025 +/- 113 mg C m-2 day-1) and from dilution experiments analyzed for total Chla (990 +/- 106 mg C m-2 day-1) and flow cytometry populations (862 +/- 71 mg C m-2 day-1), exceeded regional ship-based values by 2-3-fold. Picophytoplankton accounted for 56% of community biomass and 39% of production. Production profiles extended deeper for Prochlorococcus (PRO) and picoeukaryotes than for Synechococcus (SYN) and larger eukaryotes, but 93% of total production occurred above 40 m. Microzooplankton consumed all PRO and SYN growth and two-third of total production. Positive net growth of larger eukaryotes in the upper 40 m was balanced by independently measured consumption by mesozooplankton. Among larger eukaryotes, diatoms contributed approximately 3% to production. On the basis of this analysis, the CRD region is characterized by high production and grazing turnover, comparable with or higher than estimates for the eastern equatorial Pacific. The region nonetheless displays characteristics atypical of high productivity, such as picophytoplankton dominance and suppressed diatom roles.
Stukel, M. R., Benitez-Nelson, C. R., Decima, M., Taylor, A. G., Buchwald, C., & Landry, M. R. (2016). The biological pump in the Costa Rica Dome: an open-ocean upwelling system with high new production and low export.
J Plankton Res, 38(2), 348–365.
Abstract: The Costa Rica Dome is a picophytoplankton-dominated, open-ocean upwelling system in the Eastern Tropical Pacific that overlies the ocean's largest oxygen minimum zone. To investigate the efficiency of the biological pump in this unique area, we used shallow (90-150 m) drifting sediment traps and 234Th:238U deficiency measurements to determine export fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in sinking particles. Simultaneous measurements of nitrate uptake and shallow water nitrification allowed us to assess the equilibrium balance of new and export production over a monthly timescale. While f-ratios (new:total production) were reasonably high (0.36 +/- 0.12, mean +/- standard deviation), export efficiencies were considerably lower. Sediment traps suggested e-ratios (export/14C-primary production) at 90-100 m ranging from 0.053 to 0.067. ThE-ratios (234Th disequilibrium-derived export) ranged from 0.038 to 0.088. C:N and N:P stoichiometries of sinking material were both greater than canonical (Redfield) ratios or measured C:N of suspended particulates, and they increased with depth, suggesting that both nitrogen and phosphorus were preferentially remineralized from sinking particles. Our results are consistent with an ecosystem in which mesozooplankton play a major role in energy transfer to higher trophic levels but are relatively inefficient in mediating vertical carbon flux to depth, leading to an imbalance between new production and sinking flux.
Stukel, M. R., Decima, M., & Kelly, T. B. (2018). A new approach for incorporating 15N isotopic data into linear inverse ecosystem models with Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling.
PLoS One, 13(6), e0199123.
Abstract: Oceanographic field programs often use delta15N biogeochemical measurements and in situ rate measurements to investigate nitrogen cycling and planktonic ecosystem structure. However, integrative modeling approaches capable of synthesizing these distinct measurement types are lacking. We develop a novel approach for incorporating delta15N isotopic data into existing Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) random walk methods for solving linear inverse ecosystem models. We test the ability of this approach to recover food web indices (nitrate uptake, nitrogen fixation, zooplankton trophic level, and secondary production) derived from forward models simulating the planktonic ecosystems of the California Current and Amazon River Plume. We show that the MCMC with delta15N approach typically does a better job of recovering ecosystem structure than the standard MCMC or L2 minimum norm (L2MN) approaches, and also outperforms an L2MN with delta15N approach. Furthermore, we find that the MCMC with delta15N approach is robust to the removal of input equations and hence is well suited to typical pelagic ecosystem studies for which the system is usually vastly under-constrained. Our approach is easily extendable for use with delta13C isotopic measurements or variable carbon:nitrogen stoichiometry.