Charts are presented of the seasonal variations in the distribution of four phytoplankton and five zooplankton taxa in the North Atlantic and the North Sea. The main factors determining the seasonal variations appear to be the distribution of the main overwintering stocks, the current system and, in some instances, temperature control of the rate of population increase. Information is presented about the variation with latitude (over the range from 34° N to 65 ° N) of the seasonal regime of the plankton. On the assumption that there is a relationship between nutrient supply and vertical temperature stratification the main features of this variability can be interpreted. In the south (to about 43° N) nutrient limitation plus grazing appear to be dominant, resulting in a bimodal seasonal cycle of phytoplankton. North of about 60° N the system appears to be limited by the size of the phytoplankton stocks being grazed primarily by Calanus Finmarchicus and Euphausiacea. In an extensive zone, from about 44° N to 60° N, it would appear that the spring bloom of phytoplankton is under-exploited by grazing while in summer the zooplankton graze the daily production of the phytoplankton, the stocks of which are probably maintained by in situ nutrient regeneration. The implications, for at least this mid-latitude zone, that rates and fluxes of processes, as opposed to density dependent interactions between stocks, play a major role in the dynamics of the seasonal cycle is consistent with previously reported observations suggesting that physical environmental factors play a major role in determining year-to-year fluctuations in the abundance of the plankton.
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