Carbon sequestration and zooplankton lunar cycles: Could we be missing a major component of the biological pump?

Hernández-León, Santiago, Gara Franchy, Marta Moyano, Inmaculada Menéndez, Claire Schmoker, and Sébastien Putzeys

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(6), 2010, 2503-2512 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.6.2503

ABSTRACT: The plankton outburst during the so-called late winter bloom in subtropical waters was studied in relation to lunar illumination in the Canary Island waters. Nutrient enrichment by mixing and dust deposition promoted a bloom of phyto- and zooplankton. Mesozooplankton biomass increased as the winter mixing progressed but peaked in every full moon and decreased thereafter because of the effect of predation by interzonal diel vertical migrants (DVMs). The pattern was similar to the one described in lakes due to predation by fishes and confirms that this phenomenon is important in the sea. The estimated consumption and subsequent transport of epipelagic zooplankton biomass by DVMs after every full moon is on the order of the mean gravitational export and is an unaccounted flux of carbon to the mesopelagic zone that may play a pivotal role in the efficiency of the biological pump.

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