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Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance

Date:
October 20, 2016
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
Plankton blooms in spring are largely driven by temperature-induced increases in cell division, a new study reveals.
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A diver's view of turn-around operations on a blustery day at Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO), as study co-author Rob Olson reaches to recover a float. The near-continuous multiyear time series required for this study demanded field activities in all seasons off the coast of Massachusetts. Automated operation of FlowCytobot (FCB) at MVCO allowed the authors to collect data even during extreme conditions, when traditional boat-based sampling would have been unsafe. (Boat operator, Matt Gould at left.)
Credit: Sean Whelan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Plankton blooms in spring are largely driven by temperature-induced increases in cell division, a new study reveals.

Nearly all life on Earth depends on the byproducts of photosynthesis, about half of which is produced by marine phytoplankton; thus understanding the nature of phytoplankton blooms is important for making predictions about global biogeochemical cycling in response to climate change.

Yet, despite decades of study, the key driver of phytoplankton abundance remains debated. Here, Kristen Hunter-Cevera and colleagues analyzed data collected by an in situ device that monitored the cell division rate of Synechococcus, a common type of plankton. The device continuously collected data off the coast of Cape Cod for nearly 13 years.

The data reveal a direct correlation between temperature and cell division rates. For each degree (in Celsius) increase of the mean temperature in April, the spring bloom advances four to five days.

The authors also calculated the loss rate of phytoplankton, finding that it closely follows the division rate.

Thus, they suggest that biological factors, such viruses and predators, are still waiting to consume the superabundance of plankton. These findings are highlighted in a Perspective by Alexandra Worden and Susanne Wilken.


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Materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. R. Hunter-Cevera, M. G. Neubert, R. J. Olson, A. R. Solow, A. Shalapyonok, H. M. Sosik. Physiological and ecological drivers of early spring blooms of a coastal phytoplankter. Science, 2016; 354 (6310): 326 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8536

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020142206.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2016, October 20). Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020142206.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020142206.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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