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., Ohman, M. D., Kelly, T. B., & Biard, T. (2019). The Roles of Suspension-Feeding and Flux-Feeding Zooplankton as Gatekeepers of Particle Flux Into the Mesopelagic Ocean in the Northeast Pacific.
Front. Mar. Sci., 6.
Abstract: Zooplankton are important consumers of sinking particles in the ocean's twilight zone. However, the impact of different taxa depends on their feeding mode. In contrast to typical suspension-feeding zooplankton, flux-feeding taxa preferentially consume rapidly sinking particles that would otherwise penetrate into the deep ocean. To quantify the potential impact of two flux-feeding zooplankton taxa [Aulosphaeridae (Rhizaria), and Limacina helicina (euthecosome pteropod)] and the total suspension-feeding zooplankton community, we measured depth-stratified abundances of these organisms during six cruises in the California Current Ecosystem. Using allometric-scaling relationships, we computed the percentage of carbon flux intercepted by flux feeders and suspension feeders. These estimates were compared to direct measurements of carbon flux attenuation (CFA) made using drifting sediment traps and U-238-Th-234 disequilibrium. We found that CFA in the shallow twilight zone typically ranged from 500 to 1000 m mol organic C flux remineralized per 10-m vertical depth bin. This equated to approximately 6-10% of carbon flux remineralized/10 m. The two flux-feeding taxa considered in this study could account for a substantial proportion of this flux near the base of the euphotic zone. The mean flux attenuation attributable to Aulosphaeridae was 0.69%/10 m (median = 0.21%/10 m, interquartile range = 0.04-0.81%) at their depth of maximum abundance (similar to 100 m), which would equate to similar to 10% of total flux attenuation in this depth range. The maximum flux attenuation attributable to Aulosphaeridae reached 4.2%/10 m when these protists were most abundant. L. helicina, meanwhile, could intercept 0.45-1.6% of carbon flux/10 m, which was slightly greater (on average) than the Aulosphaeridae. In contrast, suspension-feeding zooplankton in the mesopelagic (including copepods, euphausiids, appendicularians, and ostracods) had combined clearance rates of 2-81 L m(-3) day(-1) (mean of 19.6 L m(-3) day(-1)). This implies a substantial impact on slowly sinking particles, but a negligible impact on the presumably rapidly sinking fecal pellets that comprised the majority of the material collected in sediment traps. Our results highlight the need for a greater research focus on the many taxa that potentially act as flux feeders in the oceanic twilight zone.