Temperature-enhanced effects of iron on Southern Ocean phytoplankton

Eich, Charlotte; van Manen, Mathijs; McCain, J. Scott P.; Jabre, Loay J.; van de Poll, Willem H.; Jung, Jinyoung; Pont, Sven B. E. H.; Tian, Hung-An; Ardiningsih, Indah; Reichart, Gert-Jan; Bertrand, Erin M.; Brussaard, Corina P. D.; Middag, Rob

Iron (Fe) is a key limiting nutrient for Southern Ocean phytoplankton. Input of Fe into the Southern Ocean is projected to change due to global warming, yet the combined effects of a concurrent increase in temperature with Fe addition on phytoplankton growth and community composition are understudied. To improve our understanding of how Antarctic phytoplankton communities respond to Fe and enhanced temperature, we performed four full factorial onboard bioassays under trace metal clean conditions with phytoplankton communities from different regions of the Weddell and the Amundsen Seas in the Southern Ocean. Treatments consisted of a combined 2 nM Fe addition with 2 °C warming treatment (TF), compared to the single factor treatments of Fe addition at in-situ temperature (F), and non-Fe addition at + 2 °C (T) and at in-situ temperature (C). Temperature had limited effect by itself but boosted the positive response of the phytoplankton to Fe addition. Photosynthetic efficiency, phytoplankton abundances, and chlorophyll a concentrations typically increased (significantly) with Fe addition (F and/or TF treatments) and the phytoplankton community generally shifted from haptophytes to diatoms upon Fe addition. The < 20 µm phytoplankton fraction displayed population-specific growth responses, resulting in a pronounced shift in community composition and size distribution (mainly towards larger-sized phytoplankton) for the F and TF treatment. Such distinct enhanced impact of Fe supply with warming on Antarctic phytoplankton size, growth and composition will likely affect trophic transfer efficiency and ecosystem structure, with potential significance for the biological carbon pump.



Eich, Charlotte / van Manen, Mathijs / McCain, J. Scott P. / et al: Temperature-enhanced effects of iron on Southern Ocean phytoplankton. 2024. Copernicus Publications.


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