Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 147-163

First online:

Interannual Variability Influences Brown Tide (Aureococcus anophagefferens) Blooms in CoastalEmbayments

  • George E. BoneilloAffiliated withOcean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion UniversityDepartment of Marine Science, Coastal Carolina University Email author 
  • , Margaret R. MulhollandAffiliated withOcean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University

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Blooms of Aureococcus anophagefferens in Chincoteague Bay were observed during 5 of 6 years between 2002 and 2007. In order to understand factors controlling blooms, interannual differences in nitrogen and carbon uptake and concentrations of dissolved constituents were compared at two sites in Chincoteague Bay, MD and VA over the 6-year time period. Over that time, we observed that there was no single nitrogen compound that fueled blooms each year. Instead, A. anophagefferens took up a wide range of nitrogen compounds to meet its nutritional demands. Although photosynthetic carbon fixation was the dominant form of carbon acquisition during blooms, organic carbon uptake contributed up to 30 % of the total carbon uptake. In addition to interannual variability in nitrogen and carbon uptake, we observed that there was an increase in bloom intensity and duration over the 6-year study period during which dissolved organic carbon appeared to accumulate in the system.


Aureococcus anophagefferens Brown tide Nutrients Dissolved organic matter