Bieito Fernandez Castro, Emilio Marañón
We investigate the role of mixing, through its effect on nutrient and light availability, as a driver of phytoplankton community composition in the context of Margalef’s mandala. Data on microstructure turbulence, irradiance, new nitrogen supply and phytoplankton composition were collected at 102 stations in three contrasting marine environments: the Galician coastal upwelling system of the northwest Iberian Peninsula, the northwestern Mediterranean, and the tropical and subtropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Photosynthetic pigments concentration and microscopic analysis allowed us to investigate the contribution of diatoms, dinoflagellates, pico- and nanoeukaryotes, and cyanobacteria to the phytoplankton community. Simple linear regression was used to assess the role of environmental factors on community composition, and environmental overlap among different phytoplankton groups was computed using nonparametric kernel density functions. Mixing and new nitrogen supply played an important role in controlling the phytoplankton community structure. At lower values of mixing and new nitrogen supply cyanobacteria dominated, pico- and nanoeukaryotes were dominant across a wide range of environmental conditions, and finally enhanced new nitrogen supply was favourable for diatoms and dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates were prevalent at intermediate mixing levels, whereas diatoms spread across a wider range of mixing conditions. Occasional instances of enhanced diatom biomass were found under low mixing, associated with the high abundance of Hemiaulus hauckii co-occurring with high N2 fixation in subtropical regions, and with the formation of thin layers in the Galician coastal upwelling. Our results verify the Margalef’s mandala for the whole phytoplankton community, emphasizing the need to consider nutrient supply, rather than nutrient concentration, as an indicator of nutrient availability.