Springtime contribution of dinitrogen fixation to primary production across the Mediterranean Sea

Rahav, E.; Herut, B.; Levi, A.; Mulholland, M. R.; Berman-Frank, I.

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.

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Rahav, E. / Herut, B. / Levi, A. / et al: Springtime contribution of dinitrogen fixation to primary production across the Mediterranean Sea. 2013. Copernicus Publications.

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