Evidence for a heterotrophic subtropical northeast Atlantic

Carlos M. Duarte*, Susana Agustí, Javier Arístegui, Natalia González, Ricardo Anadón

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The mean (±SE) depth-integrated gross production (P) of 2,600 ± 271 mg O2 m-2 d-1 derived from a compilation of data from nine cruises conducted between 1991-2000 in the subtropical NE Atlantic was found to be significantly lower (t-test, P = 0.005, N = 33) than the mean (±SE) community respiration (R) of 3,821 ± 276 mg O2 m-2 d-1. Two-thirds of the stations investigated were heterotrophic, and the P/R ratio of the communities tended to increase as P increased, such that communities where P < 3,000 mg O2 m-2 d-1 tended to be heterotrophic. The tendency for R to exceed P (P/R < 1.0) was statistically significant (Wilcoxon ranked sign test, P < 0.05) in the upper and deep layers of the photic zone, with an overall balance between P and R at intermediate depths. These results provide evidence that the subtropical NE Atlantic is a heterotrophic ecosystem, where planktonic communities respire more organic carbon than they produce, thereby acting as net sources of CO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-428
Number of pages4
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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