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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 5, issue 4 | Copyright

Special issue: Biogeochemistry and Optics South Pacific Experiment...

Biogeosciences, 5, 1101-1117, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-5-1101-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  04 Aug 2008

04 Aug 2008

Calcite production by coccolithophores in the south east Pacific Ocean

L. Beaufort1, M. Couapel1, N. Buchet1, H. Claustre2, and C. Goyet3 L. Beaufort et al.
  • 1CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Université – CNRS, BP80 cedex4, 13545 Aix en Provence, France
  • 2CNRS, Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France; Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
  • 3Université de Perpignan, 52, Avenue Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan, France

Abstract. BIOSOPE cruise covered an oceanographic transect through the centre of the South Pacific Gyre (SPG) from the Marquesas archipelago to the Peru-Chile upwelling (PCU). Water samples from 6 depths in the euphotic zone were collected at 20 stations. The concentrations of suspended calcite particles, coccolithophores cells and detached coccoliths were estimated together with size and weight using an automatic polarizing microscope, a digital camera, and a collection of softwares performing morphometry and pattern recognition. Some of these softwares are new and described here for the first time. The coccolithophores standing stocks were usually low and reached maxima west of the PCU. The coccoliths of Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa spp. and Crenalithus spp. (Order Isochrysidales) represented more than 30% of all the suspended calcite particles detected in the size range 0.1–46 μm (22% of PIC in term of calcite weight). These species grew preferentially in the Chlorophyll maximum zone. In the SPG their maximum cell concentrations were recorded between depth of 150 and 200 m, which is unusually deep for these taxa. The weight of coccoliths and coccospheres were correlated to their size. Large and heavy coccoliths and coccospheres were found in regions with relatively high fertility in the Marquises Island and in the PCU. Small and light coccoliths and coccospheres were found west of the PCU. This distribution is strongly related to ocean chemistry in particular to alkalinity and to carbonate ions concentration. The biotic (coccolithophores production) influence on calcification is mainly driven at the local scale (depth) whereas the abiotic (carbonate chemistry) plays its most important role at the regional (horizontal) level. Here 94% of the variability of coccolith and coccosphere weight can be explained by a change in 7 environmental variables.

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