Impact of dust enrichment on Mediterranean plankton communities under present and future conditions of pH and temperature: an experimental overview

In Low Nutrient Low Chlorophyll areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea, atmospheric fluxes represent a considerable external source of nutrients likely supporting primary production especially during stratification periods. These areas are expected to expand in the future due to lower nutrient supply from sub-surface waters caused by enhanced stratification, likely further increasing the role of atmospheric deposition as a source of new nutrients to surface waters. Yet, whether plankton communities will react differently to dust deposition in a warmer and acidified environment remains an open question. The impact of dust deposition both in present and future climate conditions was assessed through three perturbation experiments in the open Mediterranean Sea. Climate reactors (300 L) were filled with surface water collected in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionian Sea and in the Algerian basin during a cruise conducted in May/June 2017 in the frame of the PEACETIME project. The experimental protocol comprised two unmodified control tanks, two tanks enriched with a Saharan dust analog and two tanks enriched with the dust analog and maintained under warmer (+3 °C) and acidified (−0.3 pH unit) conditions. Samples for the analysis of an extensive number of biogeochemical parameters and processes were taken over the duration of the experiments (3–4 d). Here, we present the general setup of the experiments and the impacts of dust seeding and/or future climate change scenario on nutrients and biological stocks. Dust addition led to a rapid and maximum input of nitrate whereas phosphate release from the dust analog was much smaller. Our results showed that the impacts of Saharan dust deposition in three different basins of the open Northwestern Mediterranean Sea are at least as strong as those observed previously in coastal waters. However, interestingly, the effects of dust deposition on biological stocks were highly different between the three investigated stations and could not be attributed to differences in their degree of oligotrophy but rather to the initial metabolic state of the community. Finally, ocean acidification and warming did not drastically modify the composition of the autotrophic assemblage with all groups positively impacted by warming and acidification, suggesting an exacerbation of effects from atmospheric dust deposition in the future.

Gazeau F., Ridame C., Wambeke F. V., Alliouane S., Stolpe C., Irisson J.-O., Marro S., Grisoni J.-M., Liège G. D., Nunige S., Djaoudi K., Pulido-Villena E., Dinasquet J., Obernosterer I., Catala P. & Guieu C., in press. Impact of dust enrichment on Mediterranean plankton communities under present and future conditions of pH and temperature: an experimental overview. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.

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