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Ocean carbon sequestration: Particle fragmentation by copepods as a significant unrecognised factor?

Mayor, Daniel J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1295-0041; Gentleman, Wendy C.; Anderson, Thomas R. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7408-1566. 2020 Ocean carbon sequestration: Particle fragmentation by copepods as a significant unrecognised factor? BioEssays, 42 (12), 2000149. https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.202000149

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Abstract/Summary

Ocean biology helps regulate global climate by fixing atmospheric CO2 and exporting it to deep waters as sinking detrital particles. New observations demonstrate that particle fragmentation is the principal factor controlling the depth to which these particles penetrate the ocean's interior, and hence how long the constituent carbon is sequestered from the atmosphere. The underlying cause is, however, poorly understood. We speculate that small, particle‐associated copepods, which intercept and inadvertently break up sinking particles as they search for attached protistan prey, are the principle agents of fragmentation in the ocean. We explore this idea using a new marine ecosystem model. Results indicate that explicitly representing particle fragmentation by copepods in biogeochemical models offers a step change in our ability to understand the future evolution of biologically‐mediated ocean carbon storage. Our findings highlight the need for improved understanding of the distribution, abundance, ecology and physiology of particle‐associated copepods.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.202000149
ISSN: 0265-9247
Date made live: 25 Nov 2020 17:25 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/529026

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