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Vertical Carbon Flux of Biogenic Matter in a Coastal Area of the Aegean Sea: The Importance of Appendicularians

November 6, 2013

This work focuses on the direct measurement of the vertical flux of appendicularian houses in order to assess their importance as a component of vertical carbon flux in coastal areas. For this purpose, arrays of cylindrical sediment traps were deployed for 5 to 8 days at two depths in a coastal area of the northern Aegean Sea (inner Thermaikos Gulf) during spring. The data support the contention that resuspension was minimal. Fecal pellet (FP) production and grazing experiments with the dominant copepods (Acartia clausi) were conducted to provide additional information on the potential FP contribution to the total carbon flux. The magnitude of the vertical flux of particulate organic carbon (POC) ranged between 310 and 724 mg C m−2 day−1. The proportion of phytoplankton carbon in the POC vertical flux was up to 45 %. The contribution of zooplankton FPs to the total carbon never exceeded 5 %. On the contrary, appendicularian houses were an essential component of the biogenic carbon flux contributing up to 55.3 % of the total vertical carbon flux. Consequently, both phytoplankton and appendicularian houses contributed equally to the biogenic carbon flux exceeding 80 % of the total sinking POC. Taking into account the sinking speed of the particles and the environment in the area, all this carbon probably reaches the seafloor, thus indicating a strong pelagic–benthic coupling.

Zervoudaki S, Frangoulis C, Svensen C, Christou E D, et al. in press. Vertical Carbon Flux of Biogenic Matter in a Coastal Area of the Aegean Sea: The Importance of Appendicularians, Estuaries and Coasts, 2013, doi:10.1007/s12237-013-9723-z. Article.

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