Protistan communities in the Australian sector of the Sub-Antarctic Zone during SAZ-Sense
de Salas, MF and Eriksen, RS and Davidson, A and Wright, SW, Protistan communities in the Australian sector of the Sub-Antarctic Zone during SAZ-Sense, Deep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 58, (21-22) pp. 2135-2149. ISSN 0967-0645 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Protistan species composition and abundance in the Sub-Antarctic Zone (SAZ) and Polar Front Zone (PFZ) south of Tasmania were determined by microscopy and pigment analysis from samples collected during the Sub-Antarctic Zone—Sensitivity of the sub-Antarctic Zone to Environmental Change (SAZ-Sense) voyage, in January and February of 2007. A primary goal of this voyage was to determine the potential effects of climate change-induced natural iron fertilisation of the SAZ on the protistan community by exploring differences between communities in waters west of Tasmania, which are low in iron, and eastern waters, which are fertilised by continental iron input and mixing across the subtropical front. The SAZ is a sink for anthropogenic CO2 in spring, but the magnitude of this may vary depending on seasonal changes in protistan abundance, composition and trophodynamics. Protistan species composition and abundance in the western Sub-Antarctic Zone at process station 1 (P1) showed a community in which low carbon biomass was dominated by a Thalassiosira sp., which was very weakly silicified under strong silica limitation. Protistan cell carbon was dominated by diatoms and nano-picoflagellates at process station 2 (P2) in the Polar Front Zone (PFZ), while dinoflagellates dominated in the iron-enriched waters of eastern SAZ at station 3 (P3). Iron enrichment enhanced production and favoured proliferation of small flagellates during summer in the silica-depleted eastern SAZ rather than large diatoms, though the effect this may have on the vertical export of particulate organic carbon (POC) is still unclear.