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The potential impact of elevated sea surface temperature (SST) and pCO2 on algal community structure and particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSPp) concentrations in the southeastern Bering Sea was examined using a shipboard “Ecostat” continuous culture system. The ecostat system was used to mimic the conditions projected to exist in the world's oceans by the end of this century (i.e. elevated pCO2 (750 ppm) and elevated SST (ambient + 4°C). Two experiments were conducted using natural phytoplankton assemblages from the high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) central basin and from the middle domain of the southeastern continental shelf. At the HNLC site, the relative abundances of haptophytes and pelagophytes were higher and the relative abundance of diatoms lower under “greenhouse” conditions (i.e. combined 750 ppm CO2 and elevated temperature) than control conditions (380 ppm CO2 and ambient temperature). This shift in algal community structure was accompanied by increases in DMSPp (2–3 fold), DMSPp:Chl a (2–3 fold) and DMSP:PON (2 fold). At the continental shelf site, the changes in the relative abundances of haptophytes, pelagophytes and diatoms under “greenhouse” conditions were similar to those observed at the HNLC site, with 2.5 fold increases in DMSPp, 50–100% increases in DMSPp:Chl a and 1.8 fold increases in DMSP:PON. At both locations, changes in community structure and the DMSPp parameters were largely driven by increasing temperature. The observed changes were also consistent with the phytoplankton-DMS-albedo climate feedback mechanism proposed in the Charlson-Lovelock-Andreae-Warren (CLAW) hypothesis.
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