Springtime contribution of dinitrogen fixation to primary production across the Mediterranean Sea
Dinitrogen (N 2) fixation rates were measured during early spring across the different provinces of Mediterranean Sea surface waters. N 2 fixation rates, measured using 15N 2 enriched seawater, were lowest in the eastern basin and increased westward with a maximum at the Strait of Gibraltar (0.10 to 2.35 nmol N L −1 d −1, respectively). These rates were 3–7 fold higher than N 2 fixation rates measured previously in the Mediterranean Sea during summertime and we estimated that methodological differences alone did not account for the seasonal changes we observed. Higher contribution of N 2 fixation to primary production (4–8%) was measured in the western basin compared to the eastern basin (∼2%). Our data indicates that these differences between basins may be attributed to changes in N 2-fixing planktonic communities and that heterotrophic diazotrophy may play a significant role in the eastern Mediterranean while autotrophic diazotrophy has a more dominant role in the western basin.