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Assessing seasonal primary production in Andvord Bay, Antarctica


The western Antarctic Peninsula is rapidly warming and its high-latitude fjord ecosystems are expected to be highly sensitive to climate warming (Weslawski et al. 2011; Cook et al. 2016). As the region continues to change, understanding the current nutrient budget will allow for better predictions of ecosystem response at all levels of the food web to variable future conditions. Analysis from two synoptic transects along Andvord Bay, bracketing the 2015-2016 austral summer, allows for primary production to be assessed through the depletion of dissolved inorganic nutrients, nitrate and silicate. Andvord Bay is a quiescent system that can experience surface nutrient replenishment during katabatic wind events otherwise sustaining favorable growth conditions throughout an extended growth season. The high concentration of surface nitrate and minimal presence of reduced nitrogen species in spring suggests new production dominates the early season while an observed four-fold increase in ammonium would support late season recycled production. Silicate depletion indicates 25-68% of the primary production in Andvord Bay was from diatom growth from December 2015 to April 2016. Modifications were made to the nutrient drawdown method for primary production estimation to adapt to conditions unique to the Andvord Bay region, replacing the baseline winter water requirement and adapting the growth periods. Applied, this method yields reasonable, conservative estimates for net community new production indicating greater production inside the fjord than the outside waters of the Gerlache Strait and supporting the hypotheses that fjords in the WAP are hot-spots of productivity.

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