Picophytoplankton in the equatorial Pacific: vertical distribution in the warm pool and in the high nutrient low chlorophyll conditions
Blanchot J., J.-M. André, C. Navarette, J. Neveux, and M.-H. Radenac
Abundance distribution and cellular characteristics of picophytoplankton were studied in two distinct regions of the equatorial Pacific: the western warm pool (0 degrees, 167 degreesE), where oligotrophic conditions prevail, and the equatorial upwelling at 150 degreesW characterized by high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) conditions. The study was done in September-October 1994 during abnormally warm conditions. Populations of Prochlorococcus, orange fluorescing Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes were enumerated by flow cytometry. Pigment concentrations were studied by spectrofluorometry. In the warm pool, Prochlorococcus were clearly the dominant organisms in terms of cell abundance, estimated carbon biomass and measured pigment concentration. Integrated concentrations of Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes were 1.5x10(13), 1.3x10(11) and 1.5x10(11)cells m(-2), respectively. Integrated estimated carbon biomass of picophytoplankton was 1 gm(-2), and the respective contributions of each group to the biomass were 69, 3 and 28%. In the HNLC waters, Prochlorococcus cells were slightly less numerous than in the warm pool, whereas the other groups were several times more abundant (from 3 to 5 times). Abundance of Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes were 1.2 x 10(13), 6.2 x 10(11) and 5.1 x 10(11) cells m(-2), respectively. The integrated biomass was 1.9 g C m(-2). Prochlorococcus was again the dominant group in terms of abundance and biomass (chlorophyll, carbon); the respective contributions of each group to the carbon biomass were 58, 7 and 35%. In the warm pool the total chlorophyll biomass was 28 mg m(-2), 57% of which was divinyl chlorophyll a. In the HNLC waters, the total chlorophyll biomass was 38 mg m(-2), 44% of which was divinyl chlorophyll a. Estimates of Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes cell size were made in both hydrological conditions.