Distribution of calcifying and silicifying phytoplankton in relation to environmental and biogeochemical parameters during the late stages of the 2005 North East Atlantic Spring Bloom
Abstract. The late stage of the North East Atlantic (NEA) spring bloom was investigated during June 2005 along a transect section from 45 to 66° N between 15 and 20° W in order to characterize the contribution of siliceous and calcareous phytoplankton groups and describe their distribution in relation to environmental factors. We measured several biogeochemical parameters such as nutrients, surface trace metals, algal pigments, biogenic silica (BSi), particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) or calcium carbonate, particulate organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus (POC, PON and POP, respectively), as well as transparent exopolymer particles (TEP). Results were compared with other studies undertaken in this area since the JGOFS NABE program. Characteristics of the spring bloom generally agreed well with the accepted scenario for the development of the autotrophic community. The NEA seasonal diatom bloom was in the late stages when we sampled the area and diatoms were constrained to the northern part of our transect, over the Icelandic Basin (IB) and Icelandic Shelf (IS). Coccolithophores dominated the phytoplankton community, with a large distribution over the Rockall-Hatton Plateau (RHP) and IB. The Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) region at the southern end of our transect was the region with the lowest biomass, as demonstrated by very low Chla concentrations and a community dominated by picophytoplankton. Early depletion of dissolved silicic acid (DSi) and increased stratification of the surface layer most likely triggered the end of the diatom bloom, leading to coccolithophore dominance. The chronic Si deficiency observed in the NEA could be linked to moderate Fe limitation, which increases the efficiency of the Si pump. TEP closely mirrored the distribution of both biogenic silica at depth and prymnesiophytes in the surface layer suggesting the sedimentation of the diatom bloom in the form of aggregates, but the relative contribution of diatoms and coccolithophores to carbon export in this area still needs to be resolved.