The 13C method as a robust alternative to 14C-based measurements of primary productivity in the Mediterranean Sea.

by Lopez-Sandoval, A. Delgado-Huertas, S. Agusti
Year: 2018


​Lopez-Sandoval, A. Delgado-Huertas, S. Agusti (2018). The 13C method as a robust alternative to 14C-based measurements of primary productivity in the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Plankton Research 40:544-554.


Due to the increasing constraints on using the radioactive isotope 14C to measure primary productivity (14C-PP), we determined the surface carbon fixation rates in the Mediterranean Sea, using the alternative stable isotope 13C method (13C-PP). Rates obtained (13C-POCp) were compared with simultaneous 14C-POCp measurements in sam- ples of different volumes (72 mL and 1.2 L). We also tested the variation of the percentage of dissolved primary pro- duction (PER), to the total productivity using organic and inorganic filters (14C method). 13C-POCp rates ranged from 0.4, in the Ionian basin, to 1.5 mgC m−3 h−1 in the Ligurian region. These results agreed with those found with the 14C-PP in 1.2-L samples (two sample t-test, t = 1.035, df = 22, P = 0.31). However, we found that 14C-POCp rates derived from 72-mL incubations were 46% lower than those measured with 13C-PP. The discrep- ancy between large and small volume incubations was likely due to differences in the number of large phytoplank- ton cells within the community. PER values measured with silver membrane filters yielded similar results than those obtained using polycarbonate filters. Our findings showed that when the sample size is carefully chosen, the 13C-PP provide comparable results to 14C-PP even in waters of low productivity in the Mediterranean Sea.


Primary productivity 13C 14C Exudation Mediterranean Sea