Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Microzooplankton are considered the primary consumers of phytoplankton in marine environments. Microzooplankton grazing rates on phytoplankton have been studied across the globe, but there are still large regions of the ocean that are understudied, such as sub-tropical coastal oceans. One of these regions is the coastal area around south Florida, USA. We measured microzooplankton grazing rates in two distinct environments around south Florida; the oligotrophic Florida Keys and the mesotrophic outflow from the Everglades. For 2-years from January 2018 to January 2020, we set up 55 dilution and light-dark bottle experiments at five stations to estimate the microzooplankton community grazing rate, instantaneous phytoplankton growth rate, and primary production. Our results suggest that microzooplankton are consuming a higher proportion of the primary production near the Everglades outflow compared to the Florida Keys. We also found that changes in phytoplankton growth rates are disconnected from changes in the microzooplankton grazing rates in the Florida Keys. Overall, the data from the Everglades outflow is what would be expected based on global patterns, but factors other than microzooplankton grazing are more important in controlling phytoplankton biomass in the Florida Keys.
Microzooplankton grazing, Phytoplankton, Dilution experiments, Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico
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Millette, Nicole C.; Kelble, Christopher; Smith, Ian; Montenero, Kelly; and Harvey, Elizabeth, Spatial variability of microzooplankton grazing on phytoplankton in coastal southern Florida, USA (2022). PeerJ, 10(e13291).