The study of the structural and functional properties of key components of polar marine ecosystems has received increased attention in order to better understand the ecological consequences of future sea temperature rise and seasonal ice retraction. Owing to this purpose, during the ATOS-Arctic cruise, held in July 2007 in the framework of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year, we studied the respiratory carbon demand of mesozooplankton as well as their contribution to the regeneration of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus (NH4-N and PO4-P) via excretion. The studied area comprised several stations along a latitudinal gradient in the East Greenland current, plus a network of stations NW of the Svalbard islands. The specific respiratory carbon losses and phosphorus (PO4-P) excretion rates were similar or slightly higher than some reports for Arctic mesozooplankton, but the nitrogen (NH4-N) excretion rates were higher by a factor of 3 when compared with previous data sets. The mesozooplankton respiratory losses were equivalent to 23% of primary production, and at turn zooplankton contributed by excretion to more than 50% of the N and P required by phytoplankton. Although C:N, C:P and N:P metabolic atomic quotients almost coincided with the average Redfield's stoichiometric ratios, the low C:N values when compared to previous reports suggested a predominance of protein-related metabolic substrates. The potential consequences of changes observed in the C:N, N:P and C:P metabolic ratios of mesozooplankton for Arctic marine ecosystems are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)