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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 27 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 27 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Variability of phyto- and zooplankton communities in the Mauritanian coastal upwelling between 2003 and 2008

Oscar E. Romero1, Karl-Heinz Baumann1,2, Karin A. F. Zonneveld1, Barbara Donner1, Jens Hefter3, Bambaye Hamady4, and Gerhard Fischer1,2 Oscar E. Romero et al.
  • 1University of Bremen, Marum, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Leobener Str. 8, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 2University of Bremen, Department of Geosciences, Klagenfurter Str. 2-4, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 4IMROP, Institut Mauretanien de Recherches Océanographiques et des Pêches, BP 22, Nouadhibou, Mauritania

Abstract. Continuous multiyear records of sediment trap-gained microorganism fluxes are scarce. Such studies are important to identify and to understand the main forcings behind seasonal and multiannual evolution of microorganism flux dynamics. Here, we assess the long-term flux variations and population dynamics of diatoms, coccolithophores, calcareous and organic dinoflagellates, foraminifera and pteropods in the Eastern Boundary Upwelling Ecosystem (EBUE) of the Canary Current. A multiannual, continuous sediment trap experiment was conducted at the mooring site CBeu (Cape Blanc eutrophic, ∼ 20° N, 18° W; trap depth = ca. 1,300 m) off Cape Blanc, Mauritania (northwest Africa), between June 2003 and March 2008. Throughout the study, the reasonably consistent good match of fluxes of microorganisms and bulk mass reflects the seasonal occurrence of the main upwelling season and the contribution of microorganisms to mass flux off Mauritania. A clear successional pattern of microorganisms, i.e. primary producers followed by secondary producers, is not observed. High fluxes of diatoms, coccolithophores, organic dinoflagellates cysts, and planktonic foraminifera occur simultaneously. Peaks of calcareous dinoflagellate cysts and pteropods mostly occurred during intervals of upwelling relaxation. A striking feature of the temporal variability of populations' occurrence is the persistent pattern of seasonal groups' contribution. Species of planktonic foraminifera, diatom, and organic dinoflagellate cysts typical of coastal upwelling as well as cooler water planktonic foraminifera and the coccolithophore Gephyrocapsa oceanica are abundant at times of intense upwelling (late winter through early summer). Planktonic foraminifera and calcareous dinoflagellate cysts dominant in warm pelagic surface waters and all pteropod groups are more abundant in fall and winter, when the mixed layer deepens. Similarly, coccolithophores of the upper- and lower photic zone, together with Emiliania huxleyi, and organic dinoflagellate cysts dominate the assemblage during phases of upwelling relaxation and deeper layer mixing.

A significant shift in the regular seasonal pattern of species relative contributions is observed between 2004 and 2006. Benthic diatoms strongly increased after fall 2005 and dominated the diatom assemblage during main upwelling season. Additional evidence for a change in population dynamics are the short dominance of the coccolithophore Umbilicosphaera annulus, the occurrence of the pteropod Limacina bulimoides, and the strong increase in the flux of calcareous dinoflagellate cysts, abundant in tropical, warm oligotrophic waters south of the research area after fall 2005. Altogether, this suggests that pulses of southern waters were transported to the sampling site via the northward Mauritania Current. Our multiannual trap experiment provides a unique opportunity to characterize temporal patterns of variability that can be extrapolated to other EBUEs, which are experiencing or might experience similar future changes in the plankton community.

Oscar E. Romero et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Oscar E. Romero et al.
Oscar E. Romero et al.
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