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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Biogeosciences, 5, 353-369, 2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
12 Mar 2008
Spatial variability of phytoplankton pigment distributions in the Subtropical South Pacific Ocean: comparison between in situ and predicted data
J. Ras1,2, H. Claustre1,2, and J. Uitz1,2,* 1UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR 7093, Lab. d'Océanographie de Villefranche sur mer, 06238 Villefranche sur mer, France
2CNRS, UMR 7093, LOV, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
*now at: Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, 95000 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0238, USA
Abstract. In the frame of the BIOSOPE cruise in 2004, the spatial distribution and structure of phytoplankton pigments was investigated along a transect crossing the ultra-oligotrophic South Pacific Subtropical Gyre (SPSG) between the Marquesas Archipelago (141° W–8° S) and the Chilean upwelling (73° W–34° S). A High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method was improved in order to be able to accurately quantify pigments over such a large range of trophic levels, and especially from strongly oligotrophic conditions. Seven diagnostic pigments were associated to three phytoplankton size classes (pico-, nano and microphytoplankton). The total chlorophyll-α concentrations [TChlα] in surface waters were the lowest measured in the centre of the gyre, reaching 0.017 mg m−3. Pigment concentrations at the Deep Chlorophyll Maximum (DCM) were generally 10 fold the surface values. Results were compared to predictions from a global parameterisation based on remotely sensed surface [TChlα]. The agreement between the in situ and predicted data for such contrasting phytoplankton assemblages was generally good: throughout the oligotrophic gyre system, picophytoplankton (prochlorophytes and cyanophytes) and nanophytoplankton were the dominant classes. Relative bacteriochlorophyll-α concentrations varied around 2%. The transition zone between the Marquesas and the SPSG was also well predicted by the model. However, some regional characteristics have been observed where measured and modelled data differ. Amongst these features is the extreme depth of the DCM (180 m) towards the centre of the gyre, the presence of a deep nanoflagellate population beneath the DCM or the presence of a prochlorophyte-enriched population in the formation area of the high salinity South Pacific Tropical Water. A coastal site sampled in the eutrophic upwelling zone, characterised by recently upwelled water, was significantly and unusually enriched in picoeucaryotes, in contrast with an offshore upwelling site where a more typical senescent diatom population prevailed.

Citation: Ras, J., Claustre, H., and Uitz, J.: Spatial variability of phytoplankton pigment distributions in the Subtropical South Pacific Ocean: comparison between in situ and predicted data, Biogeosciences, 5, 353-369, doi:10.5194/bg-5-353-2008, 2008.
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