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We investigated biomass and composition of the microplankton community in the southern California Current Ecosystem (CCE) in April 2016 during the 2015-16 El Niño event. Auto- and heterotrophic protists were analyzed by epifluorescence and inverted microscopy. Prokaryotic components were assessed by flow cytometry. Total integrated protistan biomass varied from 1.1 g C m-2 offshore to 2.3 g C m-2 in the normal coastal upwelling area off Pt. Conception, the latter significantly depressed relative to El Niño neutral year, April 2006. Relative biomass of heterotrophic protists also increased relative to autotrophs at both offshore and coastal stations during El Niño sampling. With the exception of an anomalous bloom of small diatoms at one coastal site during 2016, the autotrophic community was dominated by 5-20 µm flagellates onshore and smaller flagellates offshore. Details of our sampling data are compared to a synthesis of relationships for phytoplankton community composition and size structure as a function of trophic richness derived from regular cruises in the southern California Current dating to 2004. Because the El Niño and preceding warm water conditions in the California Current are in the predicted direction of climate change, our analysis sheds light on potential patterns in plankton community structure that could emerge from future environmental change.


Beatty, J. L., UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA,

Freibott, A., UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA,

Taylor, A. G., UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA,

Selph, K. E., University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA,

Landry, M. R., UCSD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA,


Oral presentation

Session #:059
Date: 03/03/2017
Time: 12:00
Location: 313 A

Presentation is given by student: Yes