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Title: Dynamics and functional diversity of the smallest phytoplankton on the Northeast US Shelf

Picophytoplankton are the most abundant primary producers in the ocean. Knowledge of their community dynamics is key to understanding their role in marine food webs and global biogeochemical cycles. To this end, we analyzed a 16-y time series of observations of a phytoplankton community at a nearshore site on the Northeast US Shelf. We used a size-structured population model to estimate in situ division rates for the picoeukaryote assemblage and compared the dynamics with those of the picocyanobacteriaSynechococcusat the same location. We found that the picoeukaryotes divide at roughly twice the rate of the more abundantSynechococcusand are subject to greater loss rates (likely from viral lysis and zooplankton grazing). We describe the dynamics of these groups across short and long timescales and conclude that, despite their taxonomic differences, their populations respond similarly to changes in the biotic and abiotic environment. Both groups appear to be temperature limited in the spring and light limited in the fall and to experience greater mortality during the day than at night. Compared withSynechococcus, the picoeukaryotes are subject to greater top-down control and contribute more to the region’s primary productivity than their standing stocks suggest.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 12215-12221
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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