Acta Oceanologica Sinica

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Regional disparities of phytoplankton in relation to environmental factors in the western Arctic Ocean during summer of 2010

  • Gengming Lin
  • Yanguo Wang
  • Yanghang Chen
  • Youyin Ye
  • Yu Wang
  • Qingliang Yang


Global warming has caused Arctic sea ice to rapidly retreat, which is affecting phytoplankton, the primary producers at the base of the food chain, as well as the entire ecosystem. However, few studies with large spatial scales related to the Arctic Basin at high latitude have been conducted. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between changes in phytoplankton community structure and ice conditions. Fifty surface and 41 vertically stratified water samples from the western Arctic Ocean (67.0°–88°26′N, 152°–178°54′W) were collected by the Chinese icebreaker R/V Xuelong from July 20 to August 30, 2010 during China’s fourth Arctic expedition. Using these samples, the species composition, spatial distribution, and regional disparities of phytoplankton during different stages of ice melt were assessed. A total of 157 phytoplankton taxa (>5 μm) belonging to 69 genera were identified in the study area. The most abundant species were Navicula pelagica and Thalassiosira nordenskioeldii, accounting for 31.23% and 14.12% of the total phytoplankton abundance, respectively. The average abundance during the departure trip and the return trip were 797.07×102 cells/L and 84.94×102 cells/L, respectively. The highest abundance was observed at Sta. R09 in the north of Herald Shoal, where Navicula pelagica was the dominant species accounting for 59.42% of the abundance. The vertical distribution of phytoplankton abundance displayed regional differences, and the maximum abundances were confined to the lower layers of the euphotic zone near the layers of the halocline, thermocline, and nutricline. The species abundance of phytoplankton decreased from the low-latitude shelf to the high-latitude basin on both the departure and return trips. The phytoplankton community structure in the shallow continental shelf changed markedly during different stages of ice melt, and there was shift in dominant species from centric to pennate diatoms. Results of canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that there were two distinct communities of phytoplankton in the western Arctic Ocean, and water temperature, ice coverage and silicate concentration were the most important environmental factors affecting phytoplankton distribution in the surveyed sea. These findings will help predict the responses of phytoplankton to the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice.


phytoplankton regional disparity species composition spatial distribution western Arctic Ocean 


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The authors thank Xiang Peng, Wang Yanguo and the arctic scientific investigation team aboard the icebreaker R/V Xuelong for collecting samples.


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Oceanography and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gengming Lin
    • 1
  • Yanguo Wang
    • 1
  • Yanghang Chen
    • 1
  • Youyin Ye
    • 1
  • Yu Wang
    • 1
  • Qingliang Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.Third Institute of OceanographyState Oceanic AdministrationXiamenChina

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