Fluxes of phytopigments and labile organic matter to the deep ocean in the NE Atlantic Ocean

Fabiano, M.; Pusceddu, A.; Dell'anno, A.; Armeni, M.; Vanucci, S.; Lampitt, R.S.; Wolff, G.A.; Danovaro, R.. 2001 Fluxes of phytopigments and labile organic matter to the deep ocean in the NE Atlantic Ocean. Progress in Oceanography, 50 (1/4). 89-104.

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Downward fluxes of labile organic matter (phytopigments, proteins and carbohydrates) were measured between September 1996 and August 1998 at three depths 1000 m, 3000 m and 4700 m (c. 100 mab) over the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP, NE Atlantic), to provide detailed information on the biochemical characteristics of organic inputs to the deep sea. Temporal changes in the carbohydrate and protein fluxes were compared to carbohydrate and protein contents of the surficial sediment on the seabed beneath the traps at 4850 m depth. Fluxes of carbohydrate, protein and phytopigments (chlorophylls-a and -b, and phaeophytins-a and -b) displayed strong seasonal variations, but limited interannual variability between the two years of measurement. Fluxes of labile organic matter were characterised by strong pulses which occurred in spring and early summer, suggesting that the deep PAP area experiences relatively predictable patterns of vertical fluxes. No major quantitative differences in organic matter fluxes were observed between traps at different depths, but highest carbohydrate fluxes (time-weighted mean 2.4 mg m−2 d−1) were observed at 4700 m, whereas highest protein fluxes were observed at 1000 m (time-weighted mean 2.1 mg m−2 d−1). Carbohydrate, protein and phytopigment fluxes were correlated significantly, suggesting that settling material was associated with primary organic matter (i.e., phytodetritus) inputs from the photic layer. The contributions of chlorophyll-a and -b, and of phaeophytin-a and -b did not change significantly with increasing depth. Nor did the ratio of total phaeopigments to total chlorophylls did change greatly with depth (0.3–0.4 at both 3000 m and 4700 m depth) suggesting that degradation rates in the sinking particles were low. Protein and carbohydrate concentrations in the sediments at 4850 m depth (collected during 6 cruises between 1996 and 1998) and vertical fluxes at 3000 m depth followed inverse temporal patterns; peak concentrations of protein in the sediment corresponded to low vertical fluxes of particulate proteins. These data suggest that there is a decoupling between pelagic input and benthic accumulation. However, bacterial secondary production and sedimentary RNA concentrations displayed temporal patterns similar to those of the vertical fluxes, suggesting that increases in the metabolism of the smallest-sized biota was associated with maxima in the organic matter supply. Our results also suggest that benthic utilisation could exceed the organic matter being supplied by the vertical fluxes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0079-6611
Date made live: 10 Aug 2004 +0 (UTC)

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