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Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and major biochemicals (amino acids and carbohydrates) were measured during five cruises (2009–2010) to the Louisiana margin in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Concentrations of amino acids and carbohydrates were elevated at mid-salinities and were indicative of plankton production of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in surface waters. Hot spots of two compositionally distinct types of labile DOM were identified based on the relative abundances of amino acids and carbohydrates. Amino acid-rich hot spots occurred sporadically in regions of high phytoplankton biomass and were mostly observed between dusk and dawn, reflecting a grazing source. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich hot spots were more widespread and were often found in nutrient-poor waters, indicating the production of carbon-rich DOM associated with nutrient limitation. Major biochemical indicators and bioassay experiments indicated labile DOM comprised a relatively small fraction of the DOC. Most DOM was degraded and had a semi-labile nature. Substantial accumulations of marine (plankton-derived) DOC were observed in surface waters, particularly at mid-salinities during the summer. Microbial alteration of marine DOC and nutrient limitation of microbial utilization of carbon-rich DOM appeared largely responsible for the accumulation of DOC. The reservoir of accumulated marine DOC in the shelf surface mixed layer ranged from 0.11 Tg C to 0.23 Tg C, with the lowest and highest values occurring during winter and summer. Substantial cross-shelf export of semi-labile marine DOM occurred during the summer and provided a major carbon and energy subsidy to microbial food webs in offshore waters.

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Shen, Y., Fichot, C. G., Liang, S.-K., & Benner, R. (2016). Biological hot spots and the accumulation of marine dissolved organic matter in a highly productive ocean margin. Limnology and Oceanography, 61(4), 1287–1300.


© 2016 The Authors Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

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