Specific eukaryotic plankton are good predictors of net community production in the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
Despite our current realization of the tremendous diversity that exists in plankton communities, we have little understanding of how this biodiversity influences the biological carbon pump other than broad paradigms such as diatoms contributing disproportionally to carbon export. Here we combine high-resolution underway O2/Ar, which provides an estimate of net community production, with high-throughput 18 S ribosomal DNA sequencing to elucidate the relationship between eukaryotic plankton community structure and carbon export potential at the Western Antarctica Peninsula (WAP), a region which has experienced rapid warming and ecosystem changes. Our results show that in a diverse plankton system comprised of ~464 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with at least 97% 18 S identity, as few as two or three key OTUs, i.e. large diatoms, Phaeocystis, and mixotrophic/phagotrophic dinoflagellates, can explain a large majority of the spatial variability in the carbon export potential (76-92%). Moreover, we find based on a community co-occurrence network analysis that ecosystems with lower export potential have more tightly coupled communities. Our results indicate that defining plankton communities at a deeper taxonomic resolution than by functional groups and accounting for the differences in size and coupling between groups can substantially improve organic carbon flux predictions.
Lin, Y; Cassar, N; Marchetti, A; Moreno, C; Ducklow, H; Li, Z
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