Sub meso scale phytoplankton distribution in the North East Atlantic surface waters determined with an automated flow cytometer
Abstract. Phytoplankton cells in the size range ~1–50 μm were analysed in surface waters using an automated flow cytometer, the Cytosub (http://www.cytobuoy.com), from the Azores to the French Brittany during spring 2007. The Cytosub records the pulse shape of the optical signals generated by phytoplankton cells when intercepted by the laser beam. A total of 6 distinct optical groups were resolved during the whole transect, and the high frequency sampling (15 min) provided evidence for the cellular cycle (based on cyclic changes in cell size and fluorescence) and distribution changes linked to the different water characteristics crossed in the North East Atlantic provinces. Nutrient concentrations and mixed layer depth varied from west to east, with a decrease in the mixed layer depth and high nutrient concentrations in the middle of the transect as well as near the French coast. Data provided a link between the sub meso scale processes and phytoplankton patchiness, some abundance variations due to the cellular cycle can be pointed out. The high frequency spatial sampling encompasses temporal variations of the phytoplankton abundance, offering a better insight into phytoplankton distribution.