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Article
Nature 371, 123 - 129 (08 September 1994); doi:10.1038/371123a0

Testing the iron hypothesis in ecosystems of the equatorial Pacific Ocean

J. H. Martin*, K. H. Coale, K. S. Johnson**, S. E. Fitzwater, R. M. Gordon, S. J. Tanner, C. N. Hunter, V. A. Elrod, J. L. Nowicki, T. L. Coley, R. T. Barber§, S. Lindley§, A. J. Watson, K. Van Scoy, C. S. Law, M. I. Liddicoat, R. Ling, T. Stanton, J. Stockel, C. Collins, A. Anderson, R. Bidigare£, M. Ondrusek£, M. Latasa£, F. J. Millerostar, K. Leestar, W. Yao£, J. Z. Zhangstar, G. Friederich**, C. Sakamoto**, F. Chavez**, K. Buck**, Z. Kolber, R. Greene, P. Falkowski, S. W. Chisholm, F. Hoge§§, R. Swift§§, J. Yungel§§, S. Turner, P. Nightingale, A. Hatton , P. Liss & N. W. Tindale¶¶

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, PO Box 450, Moss Landing, California 95039-0450, USA
§Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California 93943-5000, USA
£Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
starRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149-1098, USA
**Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 160 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove, California 93950, USA
Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences Division, Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, New York 11973, USA
Ralph Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
§§NASA/GFSC, Wallops Flight Facility, Building N-159, Wallops Island, Virginia 23337, USA
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
¶¶Department of Meteorology, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3150, USA
To whom correspondence should be addressed.

The idea that iron might limit phytoplankton growth in large regions of the ocean has been tested by enriching an area of 64 km2 in the open equatorial Pacific Ocean with iron. This resulted in a doubling of plant biomass, a threefold increase in chlorophyll and a fourfold increase in plant production. Similar increases were found in a chlorophyll-rich plume down-stream of the Galapagos Islands, which was naturally enriched in iron. These findings indicate that iron limitation can control rates of phytoplankton productivity and biomass in the ocean.

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