Review

Seasonality in Ocean Microbial Communities

Science  10 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6069, pp. 671-676
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198078

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Abstract

Ocean warming occurs every year in seasonal cycles that can help us to understand long-term responses of plankton to climate change. Rhythmic seasonal patterns of microbial community turnover are revealed when high-resolution measurements of microbial plankton diversity are applied to samples collected in lengthy time series. Seasonal cycles in microbial plankton are complex, but the expansion of fixed ocean stations monitoring long-term change and the development of automated instrumentation are providing the time-series data needed to understand how these cycles vary across broad geographical scales. By accumulating data and using predictive modeling, we gain insights into changes that will occur as the ocean surface continues to warm and as the extent and duration of ocean stratification increase. These developments will enable marine scientists to predict changes in geochemical cycles mediated by microbial communities and to gauge their broader impacts.

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