Studies of the plankton community in Norwegian coastal waters.
Leading scientist Lasse H. Pettersson at the Nansen Center have co-authored the paper “The plankton community in Norwegian coastal waters—abundance, composition, spatial distribution and diel variation” recently published in Continental Shelf Research.
The purpose of the present study was to explore the composition and variation of the pico-, nano- and micro-plankton communities in Norwegian coastal waters and Skagerrak, and the co-occurrence of bacteria and viruses. Samples were collected along three cruise transects from Jæren, Lista and Oksøy on the south coast of Norway and into the North Sea and Skagerrak. We also followed a drifting buoy for 55 h in Skagerrak in order to observe diel variations. Satellite ocean color images (SeaWiFS) of the chlorophyll a (chl a) distribution compared favorably to in situ measurements in open waters, while closer to the shore remote sensing chl a data was overestimated compared to the in situ data.
Using light microscopy, we identified 49 micro- and 15 nanoplankton sized phototrophic forms as well as 40 micro- and 12 nanoplankton sized heterotrophic forms. The only picoeukaryote (0.2–2.0 mm) we identified was Resultor micron (Pedinophyceae). Along the transects a significant variation in the distribution and abundance of different plankton forms were observed, with Synechococcus spp and autotrophic picoeukaryotes as the most notable examples. There was no correlation between viruses and chl a, but between viruses and bacteria, and between viruses and some of the phytoplankton groups, especially the picoeukaryotes. Moreover, there was a negative correlation between nutrients and small viruses (Low Fluorescent Viruses) but a positive correlation between nutrients and large viruses (High Fluorescent Viruses). The abundance of autotrophic picoplankton, bacteria and viruses showed a diel variation in surface waters with higher values around noon and late at night and lower values in the evening. Synechococcus spp were found at 20 m depth 25–45 nautical miles from shore apparently forming a bloom that stretched out for more than 100 nautical miles from Skagerrak and up the south west coast of Norway. The different methods used for assessing abundance, distribution and diversity of microorganisms yielded complementary information about the plankton community. Flowcytometry enabled us to map the distribution of the smaller phytoplankton forms, bacteria and viruses in more detail than has been possible before but detection and quantification of specific forms (genus or species) still requires taxonomic skills, molecular analysis or both.
Full reference: Gunnar Bratbak, Stéphan Jacquet, Aud Larsen, Lasse H. Pettersson, Andrey F. Sazhin, Runar Thyrhaug (2011): The plankton community in Norwegian coastal waters—abundance, composition, spatial distribution and diel variation. Continental Shelf Research, Vol 31 (2011), p. 1500-1514, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2011.06.014