- Journal Article
Observations suggest that the landscape of marine phytoplankton assemblage might be strongly heterogeneous at the dynamical mesoscale and submesoscale (10–100 km, days to months), with potential consequences in terms of global diversity and carbon export. But these variations are not well documented as synoptic taxonomic data are difficult to acquire. Here, we examine how phytoplankton assemblage and diversity vary between mesoscale eddies and submesoscale fronts. We use a multi-phytoplankton numerical model embedded in a mesoscale flow representative of the North Atlantic. Our model results suggest that the mesoscale flow dynamically distorts the niches predefined by environmental contrasts at the basin scale and that the phytoplankton diversity landscape varies over temporal and spatial scales that are one order of magnitude smaller than those of the basin-scale environmental conditions. We find that any assemblage and any level of diversity can occur in eddies and fronts. However, on a statistical level, the results suggest a tendency for larger diversity and more fast-growing types at fronts, where nutrient supplies are larger and where populations of adjacent water masses are constantly brought into contact; and lower diversity in the core of eddies, where water masses are kept isolated long enough to enable competitive exclusion.