First-order estimate of the planktic foraminifer biomass in the modern ocean









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R. Schiebel et al., « First-order estimate of the planktic foraminifer biomass in the modern ocean », Archimer, archive institutionnelle de l'Ifremer, ID : 10.5194/essd-4-75-2012


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Abstract 0

Planktic foraminifera are heterotrophic mesozooplankton of global marine abundance. The position of planktic foraminifers in the marine food web is different compared to other protozoans and ranges above the base of heterotrophic consumers. Being secondary producers with an omnivorous diet, which ranges from algae to small metazoans, planktic foraminifers are not limited to a single food source, and are assumed to occur at a balanced abundance displaying the overall marine biological productivity at a regional scale. With a new non-destructive protocol developed from the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) method and nano-photospectrometry, we have analysed the protein-biomass, along with test size and weight, of 754 individual planktic foraminifers from 21 different species and morphotypes. From additional CHN analysis, it can be assumed that protein-biomass equals carbon-biomass. Accordingly, the average individual planktic foraminifer protein- and carbon-biomass amounts to 0.845 μg. Samples include symbiont bearing and symbiont-barren species from the sea surface down to 2500 m water depth. Conversion factors between individual biomass and assemblage-biomass are calculated for test sizes between 72 and 845 μm (minimum test diameter). Assemblage-biomass data presented here include 1128 sites and water depth intervals. The regional coverage of data includes the North Atlantic, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and Caribbean as well as literature data from the eastern and western North Pacific, and covers a wide range of oligotrophic to eutrophic waters over six orders of magnitude of planktic-foraminifer assemblage-biomass (PFAB). A first order estimate of the average global planktic foraminifer biomass production (>125 μm) ranges from 8.2–32.7 Tg C yr−1 (i.e. 0.008–0.033 Gt C yr−1), and might be more than three times as high including neanic and juvenile individuals adding up to 25–100 Tg C yr−1. However, this is a first estimate of regional PFAB extrapolated to the global scale, and future estimates based on larger data sets might considerably deviate from the one presented here. This paper is supported by, and a contribution to the Marine Ecosystem Data project (MAREDAT). Data are available from (

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