Photosynthetic characteristics and estimated growth rates indicate grazing is the proximate control of primary production in the Equatorial Pacific
Cullen, J. J.
Lewis, M. R.
Davis, C. O.
Barber, R. T.
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Macronutrients persist in the surface layer of the equatorial Pacific Ocean because the production of phytoplankton is limited. Measurements of photosynthesis as a function of irradiance (P-I) provide information on the control of primary productivity. P-I was measured in the equatorial Pacific along 150 degree W, during February-March 1988. Diel variability of P-I showed a pattern consistent with nocturnal vertical mixing in the upper 20 m followed by diurnal stratification, causing photoinhibition near the surface at midday. Otherwise, the distribution of photosynthetic parameters with depth and the stability of P-I during simulated in situ incubations over 2 days demonstrated that photoadaptation was nearly complete at the time of sampling: photoadaptation had not been effectively countered by upwelling or vertical mixing. Diel variability of beam attenuation also indicated high specific growth rates of phytoplankton and a strong coupling of production with grazing. It appears that grazing is the proximate control on the standing crop of phytoplankton. Nonetheless, the supply of a trace nutrient such as iron might ultimately regulate productivity by influencing species composition and food-web structure.
Cullen, J. J., M. R. Lewis, C. O. Davis, and R. T. Barber. 1992. "Photosynthetic characteristics and estimated growth rates indicate grazing is the proximate control of primary production in the Equatorial Pacific." Journal of Geophysical Research.C.Oceans 97(C1): 639-654. DOI:10.1029/91JC01320