Physical-biological coupling in the Western South China sea : the response of phytoplankton community to a Mesoscale cyclonic eddy

Wang, Lei and Huang, Bangqin and Chiang, Kuo-Ping and Liu, Xin and Chen, Bingzhang and Xie, Yuyuan and Xu, Yanping and Hu, Jianyu and Dai, Minhan (2016) Physical-biological coupling in the Western South China sea : the response of phytoplankton community to a Mesoscale cyclonic eddy. PLoS ONE, 11 (4). e0153735. ISSN 1932-6203 (

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It is widely recognized that the mesoscale eddies play an important part in the biogeochemical cycle in ocean ecosystem, especially in the oligotrophic tropical zones. So here a heterogeneous cyclonic eddy in its flourishing stage was detected using remote sensing and in situ biogeochemical observation in the western South China Sea (SCS) in early September, 2007. The high-performance liquid chromatography method was used to identify the photosynthetic pigments. And the CHEMical TAXonomy (CHEMTAX) was applied to calculate the contribution of nine phytoplankton groups to the total chlorophyll a (TChl a) biomass. The deep chlorophyll a maximum layer (DCML) was raised to form a dome structure in the eddy center while there was no distinct enhancement for TChl a biomass. The integrated TChl a concentration in the upper 100 m water column was also constant from the eddy center to the surrounding water outside the eddy. However the TChl a biomass in the surface layer (at 5 m) in the eddy center was promoted 2.6-fold compared to the biomass outside the eddy (p < 0.001). Thus, the slight enhancement of TChl a biomass of euphotic zone integration within the eddy was mainly from the phytoplankton in the upper mixed zone rather than the DCML. The phytoplankton community was primarily contributed by diatoms, prasinophytes, and Synechococcus at the DCML within the eddy, while less was contributed by haptophytes-8 and Prochlorococcus. The TChl a biomass for most of the phytoplankton groups increased at the surface layer in the eddy center under the effect of nutrient pumping. The doming isopycnal within the eddy supplied nutrients gently into the upper mixing layer, and there was remarkable enhancement in phytoplankton biomass at the surface layer with 10.5% TChl a biomass of water column in eddy center and 3.7% at reference stations. So the slight increasing in the water column integrated phytoplankton biomass might be attributed to the stimulated phytoplankton biomass at the surface layer.