A regional, early spring bloom of Phaeocystis pouchetii on the New England continental shelf

TitleA regional, early spring bloom of Phaeocystis pouchetii on the New England continental shelf
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSmith, WO, Zhang, W, Hirzel, A, Stanley, RM, Meyer, MG, Sosik, H, Alatalo, P, Oliver, H, Sandwith, Z, Crockford, T, Peacock, EE, Mehta, A, McGillicuddy, DJ
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Oceans
Type of ArticleJournal Article

The genus Phaeocystis is distributed globally and has considerable ecological, biogeochemical, and societal impacts. Understanding its distribution, growth and ecological impacts has been limited by lack of extensive observations on appropriate scales. In 2018, we investigated the biological dynamics of the New England continental shelf and encountered a substantial bloom of Phaeocystis pouchetii. Based on satellite imagery during January through April, the bloom extended over broad expanses of the shelf; furthermore, our observations demonstrated that it reached high biomass levels, with maximum chlorophyll concentrations exceeding 16 µg L−1 and particulate organic carbon levels > 95 µmol L−1. Initially, the bloom was largely confined to waters with temperatures <6°C, which in turn were mostly restricted to shallow areas near the coast. As the bloom progressed, it appeared to sink into the bottom boundary layer; however, enough light and nutrients were available for growth. The bloom was highly productive (net community production integrated through the mixed layer from stations within the bloom averaged 1.16 g C m−2 d−1) and reduced nutrient concentrations considerably. Long-term coastal observations suggest that Phaeocystis blooms occur sporadically in spring on Nantucket Shoals and presumably expand onto the continental shelf. Based on the distribution of Phaeocystis during our study, we suggest that it can have a significant impact on the overall productivity and ecology of the New England shelf during the winter/spring transition.


Coastal Pioneer