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Decima, M, Stukel MR, Lopez-Lopez L, Landry MR.  2019.  The unique ecological role of pyrosomes in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Limnology and Oceanography. 64:728-743.   10.1002/lno.11071   AbstractWebsite

Pyrosomes are an important but often overlooked component of marine zooplankton communities, with limited existing information regarding their ecological and trophic roles in pelagic ecosystems. We present the first estimates of grazing and trophic interactions of the large tropical pyrosome, Pyrostremma spinosum, in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. While patchy in distribution, Pyrostremma spinosum's grazing impact was substantial, up to 17.5% of chlorophyll a standing stock d(-1) in certain areas. In contrast, these organisms cleared a very small percentage of the abundant picoplankton Synechococcus spp. compared to the bulk zooplankton community. Stable isotopes (C-13 and N-15) indicated that particulate organic matter (POM) from the surface mixed layer (0-20 m) constitutes the isotopic food-web baseline for most of the zooplankton community, and zooplankton trophic interactions were size structured in some areas. Pyrosomes, doliolids, and appendicularians, along with the smallest size class of net-collected zooplankton, had isotopic values closest to pure herbivory, while intermediate size classes, copepods, and salps showed substantial omnivory/carnivory. Euphausiids, chaetognaths, and > 2 mm zooplankton were the main carnivorous zooplankton in the plankton food web. Stable isotopes indicated that Pyrostremma spinosum is trophically distinct from the rest of the zooplankton community, grazing just below the mixed layer (20-40 m), as opposed to feeding on surface POM. Pyrosomes represent an additional, distinct pathway for material transfer up the plankton food web, by directly consuming POM sources not substantially grazed upon by the rest of the mesozooplankton community.

Stukel, MR, Kahru M, Benitez-Nelson CR, Decima M, Goericke R, Landry MR, Ohman MD.  2015.  Using Lagrangian-based process studies to test satellite algorithms of vertical carbon flux in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:7208-7222.   10.1002/2015jc011264   AbstractWebsite

The biological carbon pump is responsible for the transport of similar to 5-20 Pg C yr(-1) from the surface into the deep ocean but its variability is poorly understood due to an incomplete mechanistic understanding of the complex underlying planktonic processes. In fact, algorithms designed to estimate carbon export from satellite products incorporate fundamentally different assumptions about the relationships between plankton biomass, productivity, and export efficiency. To test the alternate formulations of export efficiency in remote-sensing algorithms formulated by Dunne et al. (2005), Laws et al. (2011), Henson et al. (2011), and Siegel et al. (2014), we have compiled in situ measurements (temperature, chlorophyll, primary production, phytoplankton biomass and size structure, grazing rates, net chlorophyll change, and carbon export) made during Lagrangian process studies on seven cruises in the California Current Ecosystem and Costa Rica Dome. A food-web based approach formulated by Siegel et al. (2014) performs as well or better than other empirical formulations, while simultaneously providing reasonable estimates of protozoan and mesozooplankton grazing rates. By tuning the Siegel et al. (2014) algorithm to match in situ grazing rates more accurately, we also obtain better in situ carbon export measurements. Adequate representations of food-web relationships and grazing dynamics are therefore crucial to improving the accuracy of export predictions made from satellite-derived products. Nevertheless, considerable unexplained variance in export remains and must be explored before we can reliably use remote sensing products to assess the impact of climate change on biologically mediated carbon sequestration.