Migrant biomass and respiratory carbon flux by zooplankton and micronekton in the subtropical northeast Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands)
Diel Vertical Migration (DVM) in marine ecosystems is performed by zooplankton and micronekton, promoting a poorly accounted export of carbon to the deep ocean. Major efforts have been made to estimate carbon export due to gravitational flux and to a lesser extent, to migrant zooplankton. However, migratory flux by micronekton has been largely neglected in this context, due to its time-consuming and difficult sampling. In this paper, we evaluated gravitational and migratory flux due to the respiration of zooplankton and micronekton in the northeast subtropical Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands). Migratory flux was addressed by calculating the biomass of migrating components and measuring the electron transfer system (ETS) activity in zooplankton and dominant species representing micronekton (Euphausia gibboides, Sergia splendens and Lobianchia dofleini). Our results showed similar biomass in both components. The main taxa contributing to DVM within zooplankton were juvenile euphausiids, whereas micronekton were mainly dominated by fish, followed by adult euphausiids and decapods. The contribution to respiratory flux of zooplankton (3.4 ± 1.9 mg C m-2 d-1) was similar to that of micronekton (2.9 ± 1.0 mg C m-2 d-1). In summary, respiratory flux accounted for 53% (range 23-71) of the gravitational flux measured at 150 m depth (11.9 ± 5.8 mg C m-2 d-1). However, based on larger migratory ranges and gut clearance rates, micronekton are expected to be the dominant component that contributes to carbon export in deeper waters. Micronekton estimates in this paper as well as those in existing literature, although variable due to regional differences and difficulties in calculating their biomass, suggest that carbon fluxes driven by this community are important for future models of the biological carbon pump.