Influence of zinc and iron enrichments on phytoplankton growth in the northeastern subarctic Pacific

D. W. Crawford, M. S. Lipsen, D. A. Purdie, M. C. Lohan, P. J. Statham, F. A. Whitney, J. N. Putland, W. K. Johnson, N. Sutherland, T. D. Peterson, P. J. Harrison, C. S. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Near-surface seawater from the northeastern subarctic Pacific was incubated on deck for 8 d, supplemented with (1) control, no additions (2) +Zn (3) +Fe (4) +Zn+Fe. Concentrations of total Zn and Fe at time zero (to) and in the control remained at ∼0.1-0.2 nmol L-1. In the control, chlorophyll (<0.3 mg m-3), 14C uptake into POC and PIC, and inorganic nutrients all remained relatively constant. Addition of Zn slightly but significantly increased chlorophyll (p < 0.05), decreased phosphate (p < 0.01) and nitrate (p < 0.05), and in P versus E experiments, increased Pm > 10-fold and Pmchl 2-3-fold. The abundance of small diatoms and coccolithophores was higher in the +Zn treatment compared to the control. The +Fe and +Zn+Fe treatments, compared to the control, both showed >10-fold increases in chlorophyll and 14C uptake into POC and PIC and complete removal of nitrate (≤0.2 mmol m-3). However, differences were observed in size-fractionated data; the +Zn+Fe treatment had significantly lower percent chlorophyll in the >20-μm fraction (p < 0.01) and a higher percentage in the 0.2-5-μm fraction (p < 0.01) than the +Fe treatment. In P versus E experiments, both +Fe treatments increased Pm and α around 100-fold and Pmchl and αchl by 5-10-fold compared to the control. The +Fe treatment showed a slightly higher αchl and slightly lower Pmchl than the +Zn+Fe treatment. Abundance of large diatoms, small diatoms, small flagellates, and coccolithophores all increased substantially (∼7-1,000-fold) in response to Fe addition, whereas dinoflagellate abundance only doubled. The +Zn+Fe treatment had higher abundances of small diatoms and small flagellates than the +Fe treatment. We conclude that Zn additions had limited influence on conventional indices of phytoplankton growth compared to Fe, but that there might be subtle influences of Zn that require further attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1583-1600
Number of pages18
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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