The 2008 Emiliania huxleyi bloom along the Patagonian Shelf: Ecology, biogeochemistry, and cellular calcification

Alex J. Poulton*, Stuart C. Painter, Jeremy R. Young, Nicholas R. Bates, Bruce Bowler, Dave Drapeau, Emily Lyczsckowski, William M. Balch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Coccolithophore blooms are significant contributors to the global production and export of calcium carbonate (calcite). The Patagonian Shelf is a site of intense annual coccolithophore blooms during austral summer. During December 2008, we made intensive measurements of the ecology, biogeochemistry, and physiology of a coccolithophore bloom. High numbers of Emiliania huxleyi cells and detached coccoliths (>1 × 103 mL-1 and >10 × 103 mL-1, respectively), high particulate inorganic carbon concentrations (>10 mmol C m-2), and high calcite production (up to 7.3 mmol C m-2 d-1) all characterized bloom waters. The bloom was dominated by the low-calcite-containing B/C morphotype of Emiliania huxleyi, although a small (<10 μm) Southern Ocean diatom of the genus Fragilariopsis was present in almost equal numbers (0.2-2 × 103 mL-1). Estimates of Fragilariopsis contributions to chlorophyll, phytoplankton carbon, and primary production were >30%, similar to estimates for E. huxleyi and indicative of a significant role for this diatom in bloom biogeochemistry. Cell-normalized calcification rates, when corrected for a high number of nonactive cells, were relatively high and when normalized to estimates of coccolith calcite indicate excessive coccolith production in the declining phase of the bloom. We find that low measures of calcite and calcite production relative to other blooms in the global ocean indicate that the dominance of the B/C morphotype may lead to overall lower calcite production. Globally, this suggests that morphotype composition influences regional bloom inventories of carbonate production and export and that climate-induced changes in morphotype biogeography could affect the carbon cycle. Key Points Describes an Emiliania huxleyi B/C morphotype bloom on Patagonian Shelf Bloom declining despite high cellular calcification and coccolith production Low bloom calcite suggested to be due to dominance by B/C morphotype

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1033
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • calcification
  • coccolithophore
  • Emiliania huxleyi
  • Patagonian Shelf
  • Southern Ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The 2008 Emiliania huxleyi bloom along the Patagonian Shelf: Ecology, biogeochemistry, and cellular calcification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this