Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
14 May 2013
Research article |  | 14 May 2013

Springtime contribution of dinitrogen fixation to primary production across the Mediterranean Sea

E. Rahav, B. Herut, A. Levi, M. R. Mulholland, and I. Berman-Frank

Abstract. Dinitrogen (N2) fixation rates were measured during early spring across the different provinces of Mediterranean Sea surface waters. N2 fixation rates, measured using 15N2 enriched seawater, were lowest in the eastern basin and increased westward with a maximum at the Strait of Gibraltar (0.10 to 2.35 nmol N L−1 d−1, respectively). These rates were 3–7 fold higher than N2 fixation rates measured previously in the Mediterranean Sea during summertime and we estimated that methodological differences alone did not account for the seasonal changes we observed. Higher contribution of N2 fixation to primary production (4–8%) was measured in the western basin compared to the eastern basin (∼2%). Our data indicates that these differences between basins may be attributed to changes in N2-fixing planktonic communities and that heterotrophic diazotrophy may play a significant role in the eastern Mediterranean while autotrophic diazotrophy has a more dominant role in the western basin.