Comparison of two methods to derive the size-structure of natural populations of phytoplankton

Brewin, RJW, Sathyendranath, S, Lange, PK and Tilstone, GH 2014 Comparison of two methods to derive the size-structure of natural populations of phytoplankton. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 85. 72-79.

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Various methods have been proposed to estimate the size structure of phytoplankton in situ , each exhibiting limitations and advantages. Two common approaches are size-fractionated filtration (SFF) and analysis of pigments derived from High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and yet these two techniques have rarely been compared. In this paper, size-fractionated chlorophylls for pico- (View the MathML source<2μm), nano- (View the MathML source2–20μm) and micro-phytoplankton (View the MathML source>20μm) were estimated independently from concurrent measurements of HPLC and SFF data collected along Atlantic Meridional Transect cruises. Three methods for estimating size-fractionated chlorophyll from HPLC data were tested. Size-fractionated chlorophylls estimated from HPLC and SFF data were significantly correlated, with HPLC data explaining between 40 and 88% of the variability in the SFF data. However, there were significant biases between the two methods, with HPLC methods overestimating nanoplankton chlorophyll and underestimating picoplankton chlorophyll when compared with SFF. Uncertainty in both HPLC and SFF data makes it difficult to ascertain which is more reliable. Our results highlight the importance of using multiple methods when determining the size-structure of phytoplankton in situ, to reduce uncertainty and facilitate interpretation of data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Sea from Space (expired)
Depositing User: Mrs Julia Crocker
Date made live: 21 Mar 2014 16:45
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:10

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