Coherent Sign Switching in Multiyear Trends of Microbial Plankton

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Science  24 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5764, pp. 1157-1160
DOI: 10.1126/science.1122748

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Since the 1990s, phytoplankton biomass on the continental shelf of Nova Scotia and in the Labrador Sea has undergone sustained changes in the spring and fall, which are accompanied by changes in bacterioplankton that are dampened in amplitude but coherent in the direction of change. A reversal of trend in biomass change, so-called sign switching, occurs both in time and in space. Thus, whenever (spring or fall) and wherever (Scotian Shelf or Labrador Sea) phytoplankton increase or decrease, so also does bacterioplankton. This tandem sign switch indicates coupling of the trophic levels at a multiyear time scale and contributes to an ecological fingerprint of systemwide forcing.

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