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Macroscale factors affecting diatom abundance: a synergistic use of Continuous Plankton Recorder and satellite remote sensing data

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Abstract:

Diatoms exist in almost every aquatic regime; they are responsible for ∼20% of global carbon fixation and ∼25% of global primary production, and are regarded as a key food for copepods, which are subsequently consumed by larger predators such as fish and marine mammals. A decreasing abundance and a vulnerability to climatic change in the North Atlantic Ocean have been reported in the literature. In the present work, a data matrix composed of concurrent satellite remote sensing and Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) in situ measurements was collated for the same spatial and temporal coverage in the Northeast Atlantic. Artificial neural networks (ANNs) were applied to recognize and learn the complex non-monotonic and non-linear relationships between diatom abundance and spatiotemporal environmental factors. Because of their ability to mimic non-linear systems, ANNs proved far more effective in modelling the diatom distribution in the marine ecosystem. The results of this study reveal that diatoms have a regular seasonal cycle, with their abundance most strongly influenced by sea surface temperature (SST) and light intensity. The models indicate that extreme positive SSTs decrease diatom abundances regardless of other climatic conditions. These results provide information on the ecology of diatoms that may advance our understanding of the potential response of diatoms to climatic change.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431161003645832

Affiliations: 1: Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), 46,7 Km Athens-Sounio, PO Box 712, Anavissos, Attica, Greece 2: School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences (SEOES), University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, UK 3: Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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