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Gelatinous zooplankton-mediated carbon flows in the global oceans: a data-driven modeling study

Gelatinous zooplankton-mediated carbon flows in the global oceans: a data-driven modeling study
Gelatinous zooplankton-mediated carbon flows in the global oceans: a data-driven modeling study
Among marine organisms, gelatinous zooplankton (GZ; cnidarians, ctenophores, and pelagic tunicates) are unique in their energetic efficiency, as the gelatinous body plan allows them to process and assimilate high proportions of oceanic carbon. Upon death, their body shape facilitates rapid sinking through the water column, resulting in carcass depositions on the seafloor (“jelly‐falls”). GZ are thought to be important components of the biological pump, but their overall contribution to global carbon fluxes remains unknown. Using a data‐driven, three‐dimensional, carbon cycle model resolved to a 1° global grid, with a Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, we estimate that GZ consumed 7.9–13 Pg C y−1 in phytoplankton and zooplankton, resulting in a net production of 3.9–5.8 Pg C y−1 in the upper ocean (top 200 m), with the largest fluxes from pelagic tunicates. Non‐predation mortality (carcasses) comprised 25% of GZ production, and combined with the much greater fecal matter flux, total GZ particulate organic carbon (POC) export at 100 m was 1.6–5.2 Pg C y−1, equivalent to 32–40% of the global POC export. The fast sinking GZ export resulted in a high transfer efficiency (Teff) of 38–62% to 1,000 m and 25–40% to the seafloor. Finally, jelly‐falls at depths >50 m are likely unaccounted for in current POC flux estimates and could increase benthic POC flux by 8–35%. The significant magnitude of and distinct sinking properties of GZ fluxes support a critical yet underrecognized role of GZ carcasses and fecal matter to the biological pump and air‐sea carbon balance.
Gelatinous zooplankton, Jelly-fall, Jellyfish, biological pump, carbon cycle, global ocean, modeling, pelagic tunicates
0886-6236
Luo, Jessica Y.
2178718e-e8e9-419a-8d25-4d99f5a3436f
Condon, Robert H.
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Stock, Charles A.
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Duarte, Carlos M.
c29f8233-2567-4889-a1cd-9e4cb0ac3505
Lucas, Cathy H.
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Pitt, Kylie A.
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Cowan, Robert K.
ae42ea57-8ec9-4053-b213-aca57617cf02
Luo, Jessica Y.
2178718e-e8e9-419a-8d25-4d99f5a3436f
Condon, Robert H.
74397bb5-f312-4f8e-aa4a-636c4df0ac1f
Stock, Charles A.
7944dbbb-d3b5-4abe-b8c0-5c11084260e6
Duarte, Carlos M.
c29f8233-2567-4889-a1cd-9e4cb0ac3505
Lucas, Cathy H.
521743e3-b250-4c6b-b084-780af697d6bf
Pitt, Kylie A.
0eba876d-0633-4ccf-9480-71dbef3b75d0
Cowan, Robert K.
ae42ea57-8ec9-4053-b213-aca57617cf02

Luo, Jessica Y., Condon, Robert H., Stock, Charles A., Duarte, Carlos M., Lucas, Cathy H., Pitt, Kylie A. and Cowan, Robert K. (2020) Gelatinous zooplankton-mediated carbon flows in the global oceans: a data-driven modeling study. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 34 (9), [e2020GB006704]. (doi:10.1029/2020GB006704).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Among marine organisms, gelatinous zooplankton (GZ; cnidarians, ctenophores, and pelagic tunicates) are unique in their energetic efficiency, as the gelatinous body plan allows them to process and assimilate high proportions of oceanic carbon. Upon death, their body shape facilitates rapid sinking through the water column, resulting in carcass depositions on the seafloor (“jelly‐falls”). GZ are thought to be important components of the biological pump, but their overall contribution to global carbon fluxes remains unknown. Using a data‐driven, three‐dimensional, carbon cycle model resolved to a 1° global grid, with a Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, we estimate that GZ consumed 7.9–13 Pg C y−1 in phytoplankton and zooplankton, resulting in a net production of 3.9–5.8 Pg C y−1 in the upper ocean (top 200 m), with the largest fluxes from pelagic tunicates. Non‐predation mortality (carcasses) comprised 25% of GZ production, and combined with the much greater fecal matter flux, total GZ particulate organic carbon (POC) export at 100 m was 1.6–5.2 Pg C y−1, equivalent to 32–40% of the global POC export. The fast sinking GZ export resulted in a high transfer efficiency (Teff) of 38–62% to 1,000 m and 25–40% to the seafloor. Finally, jelly‐falls at depths >50 m are likely unaccounted for in current POC flux estimates and could increase benthic POC flux by 8–35%. The significant magnitude of and distinct sinking properties of GZ fluxes support a critical yet underrecognized role of GZ carcasses and fecal matter to the biological pump and air‐sea carbon balance.

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Luo et al. 2020 GBC - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 18 August 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 August 2020
Published date: 18 September 2020
Keywords: Gelatinous zooplankton, Jelly-fall, Jellyfish, biological pump, carbon cycle, global ocean, modeling, pelagic tunicates

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445005
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445005
ISSN: 0886-6236
PURE UUID: 6f02bb51-2dfd-4273-8166-5a7b3e871e86
ORCID for Cathy H. Lucas: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5929-7481

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 17 Nov 2020 17:40
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 06:20

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Contributors

Author: Jessica Y. Luo
Author: Robert H. Condon
Author: Charles A. Stock
Author: Carlos M. Duarte
Author: Cathy H. Lucas ORCID iD
Author: Kylie A. Pitt
Author: Robert K. Cowan

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