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Pronounced seasonal and spatial variability in determinants of phytoplankton biomass dynamics along a near–offshore gradient in the Southern North Sea
Otero, V.; Pint, S.; Deneudt, K.; De Rijcke, M.; Mortelmans, J.; Schepers, L.; Martin-Cabrera, P.; Sabbe, K.; Vyverman, W.; Vandegehuchte, M.; Everaert, G. (2023). Pronounced seasonal and spatial variability in determinants of phytoplankton biomass dynamics along a near–offshore gradient in the Southern North Sea. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 11(8): 1510.
In: Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. MDPI: Basel. ISSN 2077-1312; e-ISSN 2077-1312, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

    Biological production > Primary production
    Environmental conditions
Author keywords
    ecosystem model; phytoplankton biomass dynamics

Auteurs  Top 
  • Mortelmans, J., meer
  • Schepers, L., meer
  • Martin-Cabrera, P., meer
  • Sabbe, K., meer
  • Vyverman, W., meer
  • Vandegehuchte, M., meer
  • Everaert, G., meer

    Marine phytoplankton biomass dynamics are affected by eutrophication, ocean warming, and ocean acidification. These changing abiotic conditions may impact phytoplankton biomass and its spatiotemporal dynamics. In this study, we used a nutrient–phytoplankton–zooplankton (NPZ) model to quantify the relative importance of the bottom-up and top-down determinants of phytoplankton biomass dynamics in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS). Using four years (2014–2017) of monthly observations of nutrients, solar irradiance, sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a, and zooplankton biomass at ten locations, we disentangled the monthly, seasonal, and yearly variation in phytoplankton biomass dynamics. To quantify how the relative importance of determinants changed along a near–offshore gradient, the analysis was performed for three spatial regions, i.e., the nearshore region (<10 km to the coastline), the midshore region (10–30 km), and the offshore region (>30 km). We found that, from year 2014 to 2017, the phytoplankton biomass dynamics ranged from 1.4 to 23.1 mg Chla m−3. Phytoplankton biomass dynamics follow a general seasonal cycle, as is the case in other temperate regional seas, with a distinct spring bloom (5.3–23.1 mg Chla m−3) and a modest autumn bloom (2.9–5.4 mg Chla m−3). This classic bimodal bloom pattern was not observed between 2003 and 2010 in the BPNS. The seasonal pattern was most expressed in the nearshore region. The relative contribution of factors determining phytoplankton biomass dynamics varied spatially and temporally. Throughout a calendar year, solar irradiance and zooplankton grazing were the most influential determinants in all regions, i.e., they jointly explained 38–65% of the variation in the offshore region, 45–71% in the midshore region, and 56–77% in the nearshore region. In the near- and midshore regions, nutrients were the greatest limit on phytoplankton production in the month following the spring bloom (44–55%). Nutrients were a determinant throughout the year in the offshore region (27–62%). During winter, sea surface temperature was a determinant in all regions (15–17%). By the high-resolution spatiotemporal analysis of the relative contributions of different determinants, this study contributes to a better mechanistic understanding of the spatiotemporal dynamics of phytoplankton biomass in the southern North Sea. This detailed understanding is anticipated to contribute to the definition of targeted management strategies for the BPNS and to support sustainable development in Belgium’s blue economy.

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