Temporal and spatial variability in export production in the SE Pacific Ocean: Evidence from siliceous plankton fluxes and surface sediment assemblages
Romero, O., E.; Hebbeln, D.; Wefer, G.
Deep Sea Research Part I Oceanographic Research Papers 48(12): 2673-2697
ISSN/ISBN: 0967-0637 DOI: 10.1016/s0967-0637(01)00037-1
Flux of siliceous plankton and taxonomic composition of diatom and silicoflagellate assemblages were determined from sediment trap samples collected in coastal upwelling-influenced waters off northern Chile (30[degree]S, CH site) under "normal" or non-El Nino (1993-94) and El Nino conditions (1997-98). In addition, concentration of biogenic opal and siliceous plankton, and diatom and silicoflagellate assemblages preserved in surface sediments are provided for a wide area between 27[degree] and 43[degree]S off Chile. Regardless of the year, winter upwelling determines the maximum production pattern of siliceous microorganisms, with diatoms numerically dominating the biogenic opal flux. During the El Nino year the export is markedly lower: on an annual basis, total mass flux diminished by 60%, and diatom and silicoflagellate export by 75%. Major components of the diatom flora maintain much of their regular seasonal cycle of flux maxima and minima during both sampling periods. Neritic resting spores (RS) of Chaetoceros dominate the diatom flux, mirroring the influence of coastal-upwelled waters at the CH trap site. Occurrence of pelagic diatoms species Fragilariopsis doliolus, members of the Rhizosoleniaceae, Azpeitia spp. and Nitzschia interruptestriata, secondary components of the assemblage, reflects the intermingling of warmer waters of the Subtropical Gyre. Dictyocha messanensis dominates the silicoflagellate association almost year-around, but Distephanus pulchra delivers ca. 60% of its annual production in less than three weeks during the winter peak. The siliceous thanatocoenosis is largely dominated by diatoms, whose assemblage shows significant qualitative and quantitative variations from north to south. Between 27[degree] and 35[degree]S, the dominance of RS Chaetoceros, Thalassionema nitzschioides var. nitzschioides and Skeletonema costatum reflects strong export production associated with occurrence of coastal upwelling. Both highest biogenic opal content and diatom concentration at 35[degree] and 41[degree]-43[degree]S coincide with highest pigment concentrations along the Chilean coast. Predominance of the diatom species Thalassiosira pacifica and T. poro-irregulata, and higher relative contribution of the silicoflagellate Distephanus speculum at 41[degree]-43[degree]S suggest the influence of more nutrient-rich waters and low sea surface temperatures, probably associated with the Antarctic Circumpolar Water.