Seasonal export and sediment preservation of diatomaceous, foraminiferal and organic matter mass fluxes in a trophic gradient across the SE Atlantic.

N. Loncaric, J. van Iperen, D. Kroon, G.J.A. Brummer

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    Seasonal deposition fluxes of sinking phytoplankton, zooplankton and major mass compounds (i.e. calcium carbonate, biogenic opal and organic matter), intercepted by deep-moored sediment traps, are contrasted with their sediment accumulation rates over the 2700 m deep central Walvis Ridge in the oligotrophic SE Atlantic. These data provide the first seasonally resolved record of biogenic particle fluxes in the South Atlantic Central Gyre and serve as the oligotrophic end member of a gradient across the Benguela system to the highly productive coastal upwelling off Namibia. Maximum fluxes at the central Walvis Ridge were deposited in early austral spring, following winter deepening of the surface mixed layer and associated nutrient entrainment. Nearly 25% of the annual mass flux arrived in October, when sea surface temperature rose, deep vertical mixing halted and surface production collapsed. The annual flux of diatoms was dominated by small specimens of Nitzschia bicapitata (60%) whereas Globorotalia inflata dominated the foraminiferal fluxes (25%). Diatom diversity dropped significantly during the bloom periods, when up to 80% was composed of small N. bicapitata, but foraminiferal diversity remained about constant. The diatom flux maximum, together with those of biogenic silica and organic matter, preceded those of the foraminifera, pteropods, carbonate and total mass by 1 week. Fluxes of the left- and right-coiled shells of the deep-dwelling foraminifer Globorotalia truncatulinoides peaked in different seasons, a distinctive ecological behaviour which merits their taxonomic recognition as separate species. These findings testify to recent evidence for the existence of several genetic species within G. truncatulinoides and now suggest that such species may also have different seasonal responses. The Benguela trophic gradient showed a shoreward increase in particle fluxes, but differences were surprisingly small, testifying to only moderately enhanced export productivity and deposition at the Namibian margin relative to the oligotrophic central gyre. From the open ocean toward coastal upwelling, small and weakly silicified diatoms were substituted by other, larger and more heavily silicified species, possibly in response to decreased silica limitation. Foraminiferal deposition fluxes were increasingly dominated by G. inflata, accompanied by a change-over from many warm- to few cold-water minor species. The late winter maximum at the Namibian margin and the early spring maximum at the central Walvis Ridge were generated by the same process of collapsing surface productivity in response to the shut down of nutrient entrainment at the winter to summer transition, although delayed by up to 2 months in the Central Gyre. At the sediment-water interface, intense degradation of organic matter and biogenic silica resulted in poor preservation accompanied by pronounced changes in the species composition of siliceous phytoplankton. Of all particle groups at the central Walvis Ridge, only the export of foraminiferal shells appeared to be fully transferred into the sediment, and through their species assemblage to provide a sedimentary record of past seasonal productivity conditions of the upper ocean. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)27-59
    JournalProgress in Oceanography
    Volume73
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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