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Free Content Environmental heterogeneity and plankton community structure in the central North Pacific

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Spatial and temporal patterns of heterogeneity in nutrients (PO4, NO3), integrated water column chlorophyll, integrated water column primary production, and macrozooplankton biomass in the central North Pacific are described on spatial scales ranging from less than one to several thousand kilometers and on temporal scales from one day to 12 years. Fluctuations in these properties represent an index of the biological response of the ecosystem to physical forcing on various scales. These patterns are an important aspect of ecosystem structure because environmental perturbations may affect the outcome of biological interactions between populations. Heterogeneity in each property was low on all scales. Diel changes were evident only in macrozooplankton biomass, and no seasonal cycles were detected. This is consistent with a low overall level of physical forcing, little advection from outside the system into it, and lack of seasonal changes in nutrient flux to the euphotic zone. The central North Pacific shows relatively low heterogeneity, especially on mesoscales (tens to hundreds of kilometers), when compared to other pelagic ecosystems, suggesting that environmental disturbances do not have a major effect upon macrozooplankton and nekton populations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1983

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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