Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Microzooplankton was sampled during two cruises (Galápagos Vents, March 1985; Tongue of the Ocean and western edge of the Sargasso Sea, October/November 1985) by various collection methods (Niskin bottles, plankton nets, divers) to determine the vertical distribution and abundance of Acantharia. The larger size classes of Protozoa are dominated by the sarcodines, and Acantharia are frequently the most abundant of these in mesotrophic and oligotrophic oceans. The absolute densities of Acantharia have been consistently underestimated in many previous studies for two reasons: their skeletons dissolve in preserved samples, and they are undersampled by fine-meshed plankton nets. The previously identified dissolution problem may be less severe for concentrated samples because the dissolution of a portion of the Acantharia will raise the dissolved strontium concentration in the sample. Twenty five and 160 μm-mesh plankton nets consistently underestimate the abundance of net plankton by one to two orders of magnitude. Possible reasons for this significant error are discussed. In the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, Acantharia were found at densities as high as 30 liter-1 and integrated abundances of 1.58 to 5.34x105 Acantharia m-2. Up to 90% were concentrated near the surface; their abundance declined sharply below 20 m. At two stations in the Atlantic, peak densities reached 6.4 liter-1. Wind-mixing may spread individuals more evenly through the euphotic zone, but they reestablish their surface maximum during period of calm. Acantharia generally have relatively few, but large symbionts. Small individuals average about 6 symbionts per host, larger hosts average 40 symbionts, and some individuals may have thousands of algal cells. Acantharia symbionts made up less than 1% of the chlorophyll in the water column, even at their host's peak abundances of 30 liter-1. However, production estimates, using published sarcodine-symbiont production-rates, suggest that Acantharia could occasionally account for up to 20% or more of the carbon fixation in the upper euphotic zone of oligotrophic oceans.
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