Iron-light interactions during the CROZet natural iron bloom and EXport experiment (CROZEX) I: Phytoplankton growth and photophysiology

C. M. Moore, Sophie Seeyave, Anna E. Hickman, John T. Allen, Mike I. Lucas, Helene Planquette, Raymond T. Pollard, Alex J. Poulton

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68 Citations (Scopus)


The CROZet natural iron bloom and EXport experiment (CROZEX) investigated phytoplankton blooms in the vicinity of the Crozet Plateau in the polar frontal zone (PFZ) of the Southern Ocean. Peak chlorophyll concentrations reached during an intense bloom within naturally iron (Fe)-fertilised regions north of the plateau were an order of magnitude higher than those observed in deeper mixed layers and low-Fe waters to the south. To establish the factors influencing phytoplankton dynamics, a suite of in situ phytoplankton physiological measurements and shipboard Fe-light perturbation experiments was performed. Addition of Fe in experiments performed during bloom decline north of the plateau resulted in increased accumulation of phytoplankton biomass and changes in a number of phytoplankton physiological characteristics. In particular photosystem II (PSII) photochemical efficiencies (Fv/Fm) measured by fast repetition rate fluorometry increased above in situ values within 24 h of Fe amendment, suggesting that Fe stress had contributed to bloom termination. In contrast, responses to Fe amendment were minor within an experiment initiated in low-silicic acid, post-bloom waters south of the Plateau. Within the intense bloom in the north, light limitation due to self-shading may have constrained the peak phytoplankton standing stock. However, in the absence of Fe amendment, incubation at higher than in situ irradiance levels had little influence on phytoplankton biomass accumulation for declining bloom populations. Instead reduced Fv/Fm, reflecting increased photoinhibitory damage to PSII, was observed in high-light incubations and was also apparent in situ. Interactions between Fe and light availability thus influenced phytoplankton physiology and growth and potentially contributed to bloom longevity during CROZEX.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2045-2065
Number of pages21
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number18-20
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


  • Iron limitation
  • Light
  • Phytoplankton
  • Southern Ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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