Marine Science Faculty Publications

Physical-Biological Interactions Influencing Marine Plankton Production

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phytoplankton, zooplankton, turbulent, motion, nutrient, uptake, grazing

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The interaction of physical and biological processes is extremely important in structuring the biological communities in all marine environments, yet the complexity of this interaction at all scales is just beginning to be appreciated. We review the patterns of plankton biomass and the processes that influence plankton production, and in particular emphasize the importance of different processes at different time and space scales (small-scale, mesoscale, and large-scale). Examples of two different systems (the Southern Ocean and the subarctic North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans) are given to illustrate the complexity and strength of the interactions. We conclude that biological processes may be more important at smaller scales where behavior such as vertical migration and predation may control the plankton production, whereas physical processes may be more important at larger scales in structuring biological communities. An understanding of both, however, is critical to an understanding of the distribution of plankton and the processes governing production in the ocean.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, v. 24, p. 555-585