Succession and growth limitation of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Bothnia (Baltic Sea)
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A one year field study of four stations in the Gulf of Bothnia during 1991 showed that the biomass was ca. two times, and primary productivity ca. four times, lower in the north (Bothnian Bay) than in the south (Bothnian Sea) during the summer. Nutrient addition experiments indicated phosphorus limitation of phytoplankton in the Bothanian Bay and the coastal areas in the northern Bothnian Sea, but nitrogen limitation in the open Bothanian Sea. A positive correlation between the phosphate concentration and the production/biomass ratio of phytoplankton was demonstrated, which partly explained the differences in the specific growth rate of the phytoplankton during the summer. Differences in photosynthetic active radiation between the stations also showed a covariation with the primary productivity. The relative importance of nutrient or light limitation for photosynthetic carbon fixation could not, however, the conclusively determined from this study. Marked differences in phytoplankton species composition from north to south were also observed. The number of dominating species was higher in the Bothnian Sea than in the Bothnian Bay. The distribution of some species could be explained as due to nutrient availability (e.g. Nodularia spumigena, Aphanizomenon sp.), while salinity probably limits the distribution of some limnic as well as marine species. The potentially toxic phytoplankton N. spumigena, Dinophysis acuminata and Chrysochromulina spp. were common in the Bothnian Sea but not in the Bothnian Bay. The pico- and nanoplankton biomass during late summer was higher than previously reported due to a revised carbon/volume ratio.
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