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PLoS One. 2015 Oct 16;10(10):e0140690. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140690. eCollection 2015.

The Temporal Dynamics of Coastal Phytoplankton and Bacterioplankton in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Haifa, Israel.


This study considers variability in phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacterial abundances and production rates, in one of the most oligotrophic marine regions in the world-the Levantine Basin. The temporal dynamics of these planktonic groups were studied in the coastal waters of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea approximately every two weeks for a total of two years. Heterotrophic bacteria were abundant mostly during late summer and midwinter, and were positively correlated with bacterial production and with N2 fixation. Based on size fractionating, picophytoplankton was abundant during the summer, whereas nano-microphytoplankton predominated during the winter and early spring, which were also evident in the size-fractionated primary production rates. Autotrophic abundance and production correlated negatively with temperature, but did not correlate with inorganic nutrients. Furthermore, a comparison of our results with results from the open Levantine Basin demonstrates that autotrophic and heterotrophic production, as well as N2 fixation rates, are considerably higher in the coastal habitat than in the open sea, while nutrient levels or cell abundance are not different. These findings have important ecological implications for food web dynamics and for biological carbon sequestration in this understudied region.

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