U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Science Advisory Board
Background Information

Document NamePhoto- and heterotrophic pico- and nanoplankton in the Mississippi River Plume: Distribution and Grazing Activity
Document AuthorJochem, F. J.
Short DescriptionJ Plankton Res 25:1201-1214
CategorySubgroup 1: Characterization of the Cause(s) of Hypoxia
Publication Year2003

Abstract: The abundance of pico- and nanophytoplankton, bacteria and heterotrophic nanoflagellates, and grazing rates on phototrophic pico- and nanoplankton and bacterioplankton were assessed along a salinity gradient (0.2-34.4) in the Mississippi River plume in May 2000. Grazing rates were established by serial dilution experiments, and analysis by flow cytometry allowed differentiation of grazing rates for different phytoplankton subpopulations (eukaryotes, Synechococcus spp., Prochlorococcus spp.). Grazing rates on phytoplankton tended to increase along the salinity gradient and often approached or exceeded 1 day(-1). Phytoplankton net growth rates (growth-grazing) were mostly negative, except for positive values for eukaryotic nanoplankton in the low-salinity, high-chlorophyll region. Grazing pressure on bacteria was moderate (similar to0.5 day(-1)) and bacteria gained positive net growth rates of similar to0.3 day(-1). Eukaryotic nanophytoplankton were the major phototrophic biomass and protozoan food source, contributing 30-80% of the total consumed carbon. Bacteria were the second most important food source at 9-48% of the total consumed carbon. Synechococcus spp. and Prochlorococcus spp. remained an insignificant Portion of protozoan carbon consumption, probably due to their low contribution to the total pico- and nanoplankton biomass. Group-specific grazing losses relative to standing stocks suggest protozoan prey preference for eukaryotes over bacteria. Protozoan grazers exerted a major grazing pressure on pico- and nanophytoplankton, but less so on bacteria.