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Free Content Floral patterns in the California Current: The coastal-offshore boundary zone

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This study quantified the vertical distributions of 294 taxa of phytoplankton from 112 samples in a vertical section across the California Current system off Southern California. The goal was to examine the relationship between coastal and offshore floras throughout the euphotic zone. The two associations were distinct throughout the upper 140 m. The coastal flora was found in water adjacent to and east of the Santa Rosa Ridge. The offshore flora occurred west of the California Current, and also at the station immediately east of the current, presumably the result of upstream entrainment across it. Both coastal and offshore floras were similar to the analogous floras described from the mixed layers in the springs of 1993 and 1995, in spite of different ENSO conditions prevailing during the three years.

There were two unexpected results. Although the hydrographic characteristics of offshore water had been strongly modified by mixing with California Current water, the offshore flora remained similar to that of a central Pacific study site, 3000 km to the west. Clearly, the maintenance of this species association is not directly dependent upon temperature or salinity. In contrast, even though the temperature-salinity relationship of the California Current fell within the envelop of T-S relationships of source water to the north, the floristic analyses identified no flora unique to the California Current. Absence of oceanic subarctic species in the Current may be related to upstream depletion of nutrients.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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