Size distributions, population dynamics, and single-cell properties of marine plankton in diverse nutrient environments
Author(s)Cavender-Bares, Kent Keller, 1966-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Sallie W. Chisholm.
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The goal of this thesis is to study the relationship between the community structure of marine microorganisms and nutrient availability. To this end, size spectra of microbes were studied over a range of nutrient regimes, both natural and manipulated. Three transects in the Atlantic provided a natural range of nutrient environments, especially because they captured seasonal variations. The transects encompassed Sargasso Sea, Gulf Stream, and coastal waters, during winter, spring, and summer. Nutrient regimes ranged from surface waters of the Sargasso Sea during stratified periods (low-nutrient), to deeply mixed waters in all three regions of the transects during winter and spring (high-nutrient). Complementing natural variations in nutrients, two experiments were used to study the effects of enrichment on size structure. An in situ iron-enrichment experiment conducted in the equatorial Pacific (IronEx II) provided a unique opportunity to monitor changes in community structure following increased nutrient availability. In a second experiment in the Sargasso Sea, enrichments with nitrogen and phosphorus were conducted in bottles, because one or both are commonly thought to be limiting in this region. In order to carry out the goal of this thesis, which depended on the use of flow cytometry to characterize bacterio-, pico-, ultra-, and nanophytoplankton, advancements were made in methods for enumerating a wide range of cell sizes and for estimating cell size from forward angle light scatter. In addition, because ambient concentrations of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus are exceedingly low (<10nM) in the Atlantic, especially during stratified periods, low-level determinations of these nutrients were made to compliment the analyses of community structure. Size structure varied systematically, although not necessarily as a function of nutrient availability. Two parameters were explored: 1) spectral slope, which indicates the relative contribution of large and small cells to total biomass, and 2) spectral shape, or adherence of the spectra to relationships explained by a power law. The relative ranking of the slopes from specific regions of the transects remained constant throughout different seasons. Shapes ranged from discontinuous to those which adhered to a power law. It is hypothesized that only microbial systems with abundant nutrient inputs and, perhaps, reduced grazing pressure, have smooth spectra whose shapes conform to power laws.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 1999.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.