, Volume 579, Issue 1, pp 69-83
Date: 08 Dec 2006

Seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

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Abstract

Seawater samples were collected biweekly from the northern Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, for Phytoplankton analysis during the period May 1998 to October 1999. Microscopic counts and HPLC methods were employed. Procaryotic and eucaryotic ultraplankton dominated throughout most of the year, with larger nano- and microplankton making up only 5% of the photosynthetic biomass. Moderate seasonal variations in the 0–125 m integrated Chl a contrasted with a pronounced seasonal succession of the major taxonomic groups, reflecting the changes in the density stratification of the water column: Prochlorococcus dominated during the stratified summer period and were almost absent in winter. Chlorophyceae and Cryptophyceae were dominant during winter mixing but scarce or absent during summer. Diatoms and Synechococcus showed sharp and moderate biomass peaks in late winter and spring respectively, but remained at only low Chl a levels for the rest of the year. Chrysophyceae, Prymnesiophyceae and the scarce Dinophyceae showed no clear seasonal distribution pattern. The implications of alternating procaryotic and eucaryote dominated algal communities for the Red Sea pelagic food web are discussed.