, Volume 779, Issue 1, pp 243–257 | Cite as

Prokaryotic picoplankton spatial distribution during summer in a haline front in the Balearic Sea, Western Mediterranean

  • Catalina Mena
  • Patricia Reglero
  • Pere Ferriol
  • Asvin P. Torres
  • Alberto Aparicio-González
  • Rosa Balbín
  • Rocío Santiago
  • Gabriel Moyà
  • Francisco Alemany
  • Nona S. R. Agawin
Primary Research Paper


In oligotrophic regions, picophytoplankton can play a key role in total carbon production and energy transfer. Since the mesoscale hydrographic variability can influence the resource availability and therefore the biological communities, here we studied the linkage between hydrography, resource supply, abundance, and biomass contribution of prokaryotic picoplankton in the south Balearic Sea during the stratified season. The sampling area covered the confluence of two different water masses, the fresher new Atlantic water, and the saltier resident Atlantic water. Our results showed higher Synechococcus abundances in the more oligotrophic new Atlantic water mass and suggest that the spatial patterns of prokaryotic picophytoplankton are dictated by the mesoscale processes in this region. The summer stratification condition separated clearly the surface mixed layer (ML) from the deep layer (DL); our results support different limiting factors for picophytoplankton in the two layers: nutrient and light availability in the ML and DL, respectively. We also obtained no significant difference in the Synechococcus biomass contribution to total autotrophic biomass within the water column, but higher contribution in the new Atlantic water mass. These results demonstrate the general importance of picophytoplankton as carbon producers in oligotrophic waters and particularly their variability as biomass source at the mesoscale.


Picoplankton Synechococcus sp. Prochlorococcus sp. Western Mediterranean Sea Mesoscale hydrography 



This study was financed by the project ATAME CTM2011-29525-C04-02 funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. We thank D. Ottmann and all the crew and participants in the Bluefin-0613 cruise carried out on board the R/V SOCIB for helping in sampling. The cruise was co-funded by the Instituto Español de Oceanografía and the ICTS-SOCIB within the framework of Bluefin project. We also thank the project CTM2011-23538 and the University of Balearic Islands for technical equipment. C. Mena and A. P. Torres acknowledge pre-doctoral FPI Fellowship from Conselleria d’Innovació, Recerca i Turisme of the regional Government of the Balearic Islands co-financed by the European Social Fund, C. Mena as part of the FSE 2014-2020 operational program.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catalina Mena
    • 1
  • Patricia Reglero
    • 1
  • Pere Ferriol
    • 2
  • Asvin P. Torres
    • 1
  • Alberto Aparicio-González
    • 1
  • Rosa Balbín
    • 1
  • Rocío Santiago
    • 1
  • Gabriel Moyà
    • 2
  • Francisco Alemany
    • 1
  • Nona S. R. Agawin
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto Español de OceanografíaCentre Oceanogràfic de les BalearsPalma de MallorcaSpain
  2. 2.Grup d’Ecologia InterdisciplinàriaUniversitat de les Illes BalearsPalma de MallorcaSpain

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