Relative inputs of upwelled and atmospheric nitrogen to the eastern tropical North Atlantic food web: Spatial distribution of δ15N in mesozooplankton and relation to dissolved nutrient dynamics.

Hauss, Helena , Franz, Jasmin, Hansen, Thomas, Struck, Ulrich and Sommer, Ulrich (2013) Relative inputs of upwelled and atmospheric nitrogen to the eastern tropical North Atlantic food web: Spatial distribution of δ15N in mesozooplankton and relation to dissolved nutrient dynamics. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 75 . pp. 135-145. DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2013.01.010.

[thumbnail of Hauss et al 2013 nitrogen ETNA food web.pdf] Text
Hauss et al 2013 nitrogen ETNA food web.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (1MB) | Contact

Supplementary data:


The Eastern Tropical North Atlantic (ETNA) is characterised by a strong east to west gradient in the vertical upward flux of dissolved inorganic nitrogen to the photic zone. We measured the stable nitrogen isotope (δ15N) signatures of various zooplankton taxa covering twelve stations in the ETNA (04°–14°N, 016–030°W) in fall 2009, and observed significant differences in δ15N values among stations. These spatial differences in δ15N within zooplankton taxa exceeded those between trophic levels and revealed an increasing atmospheric input of nitrogen by N2 fixation and Aeolian dust in the open ocean as opposed to remineralised NO3− close to the NW African upwelling. In order to investigate the spatial distribution of upwelling-fuelled versus atmospheric-derived nitrogen more closely, we examined the δ15N signatures in size-fractionated zooplankton as well as in three widely distributed epipelagic copepod species on a second cruise in fall 2010 in the ETNA (02-17°35′N, 015–028°W). Copepods were sampled for δ15N and RNA/DNA as a proxy for nutritional condition on 25 stations. At the same stations, vertical profiles of chlorophyll-a and dissolved nutrients were obtained. High standing stocks of chl-a were associated with shallow mixed layer depth and thickening of the nutricline. As the nitracline was generally deeper and less thick than the phosphacline, it appears that non-diazotroph primary production was limited by N rather than P throughout the study area, which is in line with enrichment experiments during these cruises. Estimated by the δ15N in zooplankton, atmospheric sources of new N contributed less than 20% close to the African coast and in the Guinea Dome area and up to 60% at the offshore stations, depending on the depth of the nitracline. δ15N of the three different copepod species investigated strongly correlated with each other, in spite of their distinct feeding ecology, which resulted in different spatial patterns of nutritional condition as indicated by RNA/DNA.
► We studied δ15N and RNA/DNA of eastern tropical Atlantic zooplankton along with nutrients and Chl-α. ► Zooplankton −δ15N was decreasing from east (West African Shelf) to west (oligotrophic open ocean). ► Total integrated Chl-a depended mainly on nutricline depth and was N-limited throughout the area. ► Zooplankton δ15N and nutricline depth were used to estimate atmospheric N sources to the food web. ► Estimated atmospheric nitrogen sources were less than 20% at the shelf slope and up to 60% offshore.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000317888800011
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > B2
OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > SFB 754 > B8
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: SFB754, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2013 12:54
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 22:55

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item