AbstractOnce fixed by photosynthesis carbon becomes part of the marine food web. The fate of this carbon has two possible outcomes, it may be respired and released back to the ocean and potentially to the atmosphere as CO2 or retained in the ocean interior and/or marine sediments for extended time scales. The most important biologically mediated processes responsible for long-term carbon storage in the ocean are the biological carbon pump (BCP) and the microbial carbon pump (MCP). While acting simultaneously in the ocean, the balance between these two mechanisms is thought to vary depending on the trophic state of the environment. Using previously published formulations, we propose a modelling framework to simulate variability in the MCP:BCP ratio as a function of external nutrients. Our results suggest that the role of the MCP might become more significant under future climate change conditions where increased stratification enhances the oligotrophic nature of the surface ocean. Based on these model results, we propose a conceptual framework in which the internal stoichiometry of phytoplankton, modulating both grazing pressure and dissolved organic matter production (via phytoplankton exudation), plays a crucial role in regulating the MCP:BCP ratio.
Journal of Plankton Research – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2017
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