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  1. Abstract

    Iron is an essential nutrient for all microorganisms of the marine environment. Iron limitation of primary production has been well documented across a significant portion of the global surface ocean, but much less is known regarding the potential for iron limitation of the marine heterotrophic microbial community. In this work, we characterize the transcriptomic response of the heterotrophic bacterial community to iron additions in the California Current System, an eastern boundary upwelling system, to detect in situ iron stress of heterotrophic bacteria. Changes in gene expression in response to iron availability by heterotrophic bacteria were detected under conditions of high productivity when carbon limitation was relieved but when iron availability remained low. The ratio of particulate organic carbon to dissolved iron emerged as a biogeochemical proxy for iron limitation of heterotrophic bacteria in this system. Iron stress was characterized by high expression levels of iron transport pathways and decreased expression of iron-containing enzymes involved in carbon metabolism, where a majority of the heterotrophic bacterial iron requirement resides. Expression of iron stress biomarkers, as identified in the iron-addition experiments, was also detected insitu. These results suggest iron availability will impact the processing of organic matter by heterotrophic bacteria with potential consequences for the marine biological carbon pump.

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  2. Abstract

    Microbial community dynamics on sinking particles control the amount of carbon that reaches the deep ocean and the length of time that carbon is stored, with potentially profound impacts on Earth’s climate. A mechanistic understanding of the controls on sinking particle distributions has been hindered by limited depth- and time-resolved sampling and methods that cannot distinguish individual particles. Here, we analyze microbial communities on nearly 400 individual sinking particles in conjunction with more conventional composite particle samples to determine how particle colonization and community assembly might control carbon sequestration in the deep ocean. We observed community succession with corresponding changes in microbial metabolic potential on the larger sinking particles transporting a significant fraction of carbon to the deep sea. Microbial community richness decreased as particles aged and sank; however, richness increased with particle size and the attenuation of carbon export. This suggests that the theory of island biogeography applies to sinking marine particles. Changes in POC flux attenuation with time and microbial community composition with depth were reproduced in a mechanistic ecosystem model that reflected a range of POC labilities and microbial growth rates. Our results highlight microbial community dynamics and processes on individual sinking particles, the isolation of which is necessary to improve mechanistic models of ocean carbon uptake.

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  3. null (Ed.)
    The oceans teem with heterotrophic bacterioplankton that play an appreciable role in the uptake of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) derived from phytoplankton net primary production (NPP). As such, bacterioplankton carbon demand (BCD), or gross heterotrophic production, represents a major carbon pathway that influences the seasonal accumulation of DOC in the surface ocean and, subsequently, the potential vertical or horizontal export of seasonally accumulated DOC. Here, we examine the contributions of bacterioplankton and DOM to ecological and biogeochemical carbon flow pathways, including those of the microbial loop and the biological carbon pump, in the Western North Atlantic Ocean (∼39–54°N along ∼40°W) over a composite annual phytoplankton bloom cycle. Combining field observations with data collected from corresponding DOC remineralization experiments, we estimate the efficiency at which bacterioplankton utilize DOC, demonstrate seasonality in the fraction of NPP that supports BCD, and provide evidence for shifts in the bioavailability and persistence of the seasonally accumulated DOC. Our results indicate that while the portion of DOC flux through bacterioplankton relative to NPP increased as seasons transitioned from high to low productivity, there was a fraction of the DOM production that accumulated and persisted. This persistent DOM is potentially an important pool of organic carbon available for export to the deep ocean via convective mixing, thus representing an important export term of the biological carbon pump. 
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  4. Abstract

    In eastern boundary current systems, strong coastal upwelling brings deep, nutrient‐rich waters to the surface ocean, supporting a productive food web. The nitrate load in water masses that supply the region can be impacted by a variety of climate‐related processes that subsequently modulate primary productivity. In this study, two coastal upwelling regimes along central and southern California were sampled seasonally for nitrogen and oxygen stable isotopes of nitrate (i.e., nitrate isotopes) over several years (2010–2016) on 14 California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruises. Seasonal, interannual, and spatial variations in euphotic zone nitrate isotopes were largely driven by the extent of nitrate utilization, sometimes linked to iron limitation of diatom productivity. Pronounced isotopic enrichment developed with the El Niño conditions in late 2015 and early 2016 which likely resulted from increased nitrate utilization linked to reduced nitrate supply to the euphotic zone. Differential enrichment of nitrogen and oxygen isotopes was observed in the surface ocean, suggesting that phytoplankton increased their reliance on locally nitrified (recycled) nitrate during warmer and more stratified periods. Overall, nitrate isotopes effectively differentiated important euphotic zone processes such as nitrate assimilation and nitrification, while archiving the influence of disparate controls such as iron limitation and climatic events through their effects on nitrate utilization and isotopic fractionation.

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  5. Abstract

    Denitrification in the anoxic sediments of the Santa Barbara Basin has been well documented in the historic and modern record, but the regulation of and frequency with which denitrification occurs in the overlying water column are less understood. Since 2004, the magnitude and speciation of redox active nitrogen species in bottom waters have changed markedly. Most notable are periods of decreased nitrate and increased nitrite concentrations. Here we examine these changes in nitrogen cycling as recorded by the stable isotopes of dissolved nitrate from 2010–2016. When compared to previous studies, our data identify an increase in water column denitrification in the bottom waters of the basin. Observations from inside the basin as well as data from the wider California Current Ecosystem implicate a long‐term trend of decreasing oxygen concentrations as the driver for these observed changes, with ramifications for local benthic communities and regional nitrogen loss.

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  6. Abstract

    Nitrification, the microbial conversion of ammonium to nitrite then to nitrate, occurs throughout the oceanic water column, yet the environmental factors influencing the production of nitrate in the euphotic zone (EZ) remain unclear. In this study, the natural abundances of N and O isotopes (δ15N and δ18O, respectively) in nitrate were used in an existing model framework to quantify nitrate contributed by EZ nitrification in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) during two anomalously warm years. Model data estimated that between 6% and 36% of the EZ nitrate reservoirs were derived from the combined steps of nitrification within the EZ. The CCE data set found nitrification contributions to EZ nitrate to be positively correlated with nitrite concentrations () at the depth of the primary nitrite maximum (PNM). Building on this correlation, EZ nitrification in the southern California Current was estimated to contribute on average 20% ± 6% to EZ nitrate as inferred using the PNMof the long‐term California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI) survey record. A multiple linear regression analysis of the CalCOFI PNMtime series identified two conditions that led to positive deviations in. Enhanced PNM, and potentially enhanced EZ nitrification, may be linked to (1) reduced phytoplankton competition for ammonium () andas interpreted from particulate organic carbon:chlorophyll ratios, and/or (2) to increased supply of(and thenoxidation to) from the degradation of organic nitrogen as interpreted from particulate organic nitrogen concentrations.

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