Diatom Abundance in Surface Sediments: A Quantitative Proxy for Primary Productivity at the Global Level?

Friday, 19 December 2014
Fatima F G Abrantes1,2, Cristina Lopes2, Oscar E Romero3, Lelia Matos1,3, Marta Mega Rufino1,2, Vitor H Magalhaes1 and Pedro Cermeno4, (1)Instituto Port Mar e Atmosfera, Lisbon, Portugal, (2)Cimar, Porto, Portugal, (3)MARUM, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany, (4)Marine Sciences Institute (ICM - CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
Diatom abundance and assemblage composition has for long been considered one of the best proxies for primary production, in particular for low latitude coastal upwelling areas, where they constitute the dominant phytoplankton. To investigate productivity conditions at those upwelling systems at any time and at the global level would be of great use for C export estimations and climate modeling, since primary production and C export in those systems is of major importance in controlling Earth's climate.

To assess the value of the diatom sediment record at the global level, total abundance of marine diatoms was determined for 730 sites distributed by the five most important coastal upwelling systems of the modern ocean, and compared to several meaningful ecological parameters.

Investigations of the satellite estimated primary productivity; upwelling index; water column physical properties and nutrient content, reveal a clear relation between sediment diatom abundance and primary production - although different between areas. Furthermore, upwelled waters [Si] appear as a determinant factor of the observed global diatom distribution.