The Importance of Mesozooplankton Diel Vertical Migration for Sustaining a Mesopelagic Food Web

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Authors Thomas B. Kelly, Peter C. Davison, Ralf Goericke, Michael R. Landry, Mark D. Ohman, Michael R. Stukel
Journal/Conference Name Food Webs
Paper Category , ,
Paper Abstract We used extensive ecological and biogeochemical measurements obtained from quasi-Lagrangian experiments during two California Current Ecosystem Long-Term Ecosystem Research cruises to analyze carbon fluxes between the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones using a linear inverse ecosystem model (LIEM). Measurement constraints on the model include 14C primary productivity, dilution-based microzooplankton grazing rates, gut pigment-based mesozooplankton grazing rates (on multiple zooplankton size classes), 234Th238U disequilibrium and sediment trap measured carbon export, and metabolic requirements of micronekton, zooplankton, and bacteria. A likelihood approach (Markov Chain Monte Carlo) was used to estimate the resulting flow uncertainties from a sample of potential flux networks. Results highlight the importance of mesozooplankton active transport (i.e., diel vertical migration) in supplying the carbon demand of mesopelagic organisms and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In nine water parcels ranging from a coastal bloom to offshore oligotrophic conditions, mesozooplankton active transport accounted for 18–84% (median 42%) of the total carbon transfer to the mesopelagic, with gravitational settling of POC (12–55%; median 37%), and subduction (2–32%; median 14%) providing the majority of the remainder. Vertically migrating zooplankton contributed to downward carbon flux through respiration and excretion at depth and via mortality losses to predatory zooplankton and mesopelagic fish (e.g., myctophids and gonostomatids). Sensitivity analyses showed that the results of the LIEM were robust to changes in nekton metabolic demand, rates of bacterial production, and mesozooplankton gross growth efficiency. This analysis suggests that prior estimates of zooplankton active transport based on conservative estimates of standard (rather than active) metabolism are likely too low.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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