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Primary productivity in a coastal ecosystem: a trophic perspective on a long-term time series

Journal article
Authors Peter Tiselius
Andrea Belgrano
Lars Andersson
Odd Lindahl
Published in Journal of Plankton Research
Volume 38
Issue 4
Pages 1092-1102
ISSN 0142-7873
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Kristineberg
Pages 1092-1102
Language en
Subject categories Marine ecology


To investigate forcing factors on a coastal plankton food web, primary production was measured every 2 weeks for 28 years. On a decadal scale, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) correlated positively to primary production (r = 0.44, P = 0.021) and winter surface nitrate (r = 0.60, P = 0.0014) and phosphate (r = 0.66, P = 0.0003; r = 0.60, P = 0.0014). This suggests that climate forcing through increased wind and vertical mixing leads to higher entrainment of nutrients which stimulate yearly primary production. The highest production occurred in summer (1105 ± 16 mg C m−2 day−1) and correlated positively with zooplankton biomass (r = 0.61, P = 0.037), but showed no relation to phytoplankton biomass. Estimated phytoplankton grazing by copepods was low, but ciliates had the potential to remove all the phytoplankton biomass daily. Copepods, in turn, could exert a strong predation on ciliates which indicates a top-down regulation of phytoplankton biomass. Advection of copepods into the fjord and predation of jellyfish are suggested as the main regulatory factors for the copepod populations. We conclude that climate affects the pelagic ecosystem in the fjord through the NAO, but that biological interactions through grazing and predation by copepods regulate the system on a seasonal scale, indicative of a trophic cascade.

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