Microbial communities and processes in ice-covered Arctic waters of the northwestern Fram Strait (75 to 80° N) during the vernal pre-bloom phase
TypePeer reviewed; Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Marine microbial communities have been little studied in Arctic waters, especially during the winter–spring transition before the development of extensive phytoplankton blooms. This study investigated microbial plankton in the ice-covered polar surface waters of the northwestern Fram Strait (75 to 80°N) at the onset of the 24 h light period in spring (April to May). The system we encountered was characterised by low concentrations of chlorophyll a (<0.2 μg l−1) and a low abundance of both bacteria (1.4 to 2.5 × 108 cells l−1) and protists (1 to 1.7 × 105 cells l−1). Bacterial production was very low (≤0.63 μg C l−1 d−1), despite the dominance of nucleic-acid-rich bacteria (58 ± 6% of total bacterial abundance). Small (2 to 5 μm) phototrophs dominated the eukaryotic assemblage in the surface and most probably had profound effects on the composition and metabolic balance of the microbial community as a whole. Most stations appeared to have been net-autotrophic, and calculations of phagotrophy indicated a balanced carbon budget for the microbial community. Mixotrophy was seen in a large part of the ciliate assemblage and may have contributed to the productivity and stability of the pre-bloom system that we encountered.