Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

The Spatial Distribution of Silicoflagellates in the Region of the Gulf Stream Warm-Core Ring 82B: Application to Water Mass Tracer Studies

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Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers



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To delineate potential water mass affinities, we investigated silicoflagellates from the region of Gulf Stream warm-core ring (WCR) 82B in the northwestern Atlantic. Silicoflagellates from 202 samples from N-S and an E-W transects across WCR 82B during late April were analysed. Shelf to Sargasso Sea transects, one completed in early May and the other in June 1982 were also examined. Eight to 11 vertical profiles to 200 m comprised each of the transects. Six taxa of silicoflagellates were found in the samples studied and a total of more than 8000 specimens were encountered. Three major taxa dominated standing stocks: Distephanus speculum, Dictyocha messanensis (intermediate-sized form) and D. mandrai. D. speculum, considered a cold-water taxon in the literature, showed a higher standing stock in the cooler high-velocity region (HVR) of the warm-core ring, continental shelf (SH) and slope (SL) waters. Fewer were present in the wanner ring center (RC), Gulf Stream (GS) and Sargasso Sea (SS). D. mandrai showed a similar distribution to that of D. speculum, but its preference for slightly warmer waters (>~10°C) was noted. In contrast, Dictyocha messanensis (intermediate-sized) and Distephanus pulchra, known to be warm-water taxa, were relatively abundant in the warm ring center. In contrast to standing stock data, ratios between cold- and warm-water taxa correlate well with temperature and salinity in the warm-core ring. Since these ratios are not effected by convective loss, they are excellent water mass tracers in this system. Distribution of the silicoflagellate taxa suggests that WCR82B April had a higher affinity with the Gulf Stream than the Sargasso Sea.

Scores derived from factor analysis indicate that silicoflagellate species distributions are highly correlative with water masses. This was evident from correlations with temperature, salinity and with distance from ring center. Nutrients were generally not correlated with species data. This may be due to deep vertical mixing in the ring center of 82B in April that resulted in loss of plankton cells below the euphotic zone which was responsible for low silicoflagellate standing stock. Silicoflagellate productivity, measured as % double skeletons of D. speculum, was approximately the same in all water masses. This result is consistent with the hypothesized plankton population loss due to the convection.






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©1992 Pergamon Press plc

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NSF grant #s: OCE-81-17653, OCE-83-09355, OCE-85-15864

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