To ascertain whether the Blanes submarine canyon functions as a conduit of labile organic compounds to the deep margin, we analyzed phytopigment, protein, carbohydrate and lipid contents of sinking particles during a 6-months period comprised between a large storm event and the spring phytoplankton bloom. Four sediment traps were deployed, at 300, 900, 1200, and 1500 m depth along the axis of the canyon from November 2008 to April 2009. Fluxes of all study variables (organic carbon, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) peaked from mid to late December. Afterwards, organic matter fluxes in the upper canyon decreased to values comparable (BC1200) or much lower (BC900) than those observed at the beginning of the monitoring period. The algal fraction of biopolymeric C (i.e. the percentage contribution of phyto- pigments to biopolymeric C utilized here as an indicator of particles’ freshness), ranging from 14 to about 100%, was generally low (median value about 32%), and showed the highest values from November to early December 2008 at all stations, except for the station at 1200 m which peaks in April 2009. A severe storm that occurred the 26th of December 2008 determined a strong increase in the downward transport of organic matter along the Blanes Canyon, though associated with a decrease in its nutritional quality. Values of the protein to carbohydrate ratio (utilized here as an indicator of particles’ nutritional quality) ranged from 0.4 to >2.0, increasing from late winter to early spring at 900 and 1200 m depth in associ- ation with the spring phytoplankton bloom in superficial waters. The material collected by sediment traps in spring had a higher nutritional value than in autumn–winter at both stations. According to the optimal foraging theory, the results of this study suggest that, following winter episodic events, deep-sea detritus feeders would need to ingest more detritus to fulfill their requirements for labile food than in spring, when fresher material is derived from sinking particles associated with phytoplankton blooms. We conclude that whilst submarine canyons like the Blanes Canyon act as major conduits for material exported from the continental shelf after high-energy episodic events, the supply of labile food to the deep-sea benthic ecosystem is connected to biological processes occurring at the sea surface.

Bioavailable compounds in sinking particulate organic matter, Blanes Canyon, NW Mediterranean Sea: Effects of a large storm and sea surface biological processes

PUSCEDDU, ANTONIO;
2013

Abstract

To ascertain whether the Blanes submarine canyon functions as a conduit of labile organic compounds to the deep margin, we analyzed phytopigment, protein, carbohydrate and lipid contents of sinking particles during a 6-months period comprised between a large storm event and the spring phytoplankton bloom. Four sediment traps were deployed, at 300, 900, 1200, and 1500 m depth along the axis of the canyon from November 2008 to April 2009. Fluxes of all study variables (organic carbon, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) peaked from mid to late December. Afterwards, organic matter fluxes in the upper canyon decreased to values comparable (BC1200) or much lower (BC900) than those observed at the beginning of the monitoring period. The algal fraction of biopolymeric C (i.e. the percentage contribution of phyto- pigments to biopolymeric C utilized here as an indicator of particles’ freshness), ranging from 14 to about 100%, was generally low (median value about 32%), and showed the highest values from November to early December 2008 at all stations, except for the station at 1200 m which peaks in April 2009. A severe storm that occurred the 26th of December 2008 determined a strong increase in the downward transport of organic matter along the Blanes Canyon, though associated with a decrease in its nutritional quality. Values of the protein to carbohydrate ratio (utilized here as an indicator of particles’ nutritional quality) ranged from 0.4 to >2.0, increasing from late winter to early spring at 900 and 1200 m depth in associ- ation with the spring phytoplankton bloom in superficial waters. The material collected by sediment traps in spring had a higher nutritional value than in autumn–winter at both stations. According to the optimal foraging theory, the results of this study suggest that, following winter episodic events, deep-sea detritus feeders would need to ingest more detritus to fulfill their requirements for labile food than in spring, when fresher material is derived from sinking particles associated with phytoplankton blooms. We conclude that whilst submarine canyons like the Blanes Canyon act as major conduits for material exported from the continental shelf after high-energy episodic events, the supply of labile food to the deep-sea benthic ecosystem is connected to biological processes occurring at the sea surface.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/123621
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