Climate Impact on Plankton Ecosystems in the Northeast Atlantic

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Science  10 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5690, pp. 1609-1612
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100958

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It is now widely accepted that global warming is occurring, yet its effects on the world's largest ecosystem, the marine pelagic realm, are largely unknown. We show that sea surface warming in the Northeast Atlantic is accompanied by increasing phytoplankton abundance in cooler regions and decreasing phytoplankton abundance in warmer regions. This impact propagates up the food web (bottom-up control) through copepod herbivores to zooplankton carnivores because of tight trophic coupling. Future warming is therefore likely to alter the spatial distribution of primary and secondary pelagic production, affecting ecosystem services and placing additional stress on already-depleted fish and mammal populations.

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