Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 12, pp 2703–2716 | Cite as

Long-term changes in phytoplankton phenology and community structure in the Bahía Blanca Estuary, Argentina

  • Valeria A. Guinder
  • Cecilia A. Popovich
  • Juan Carlos Molinero
  • Gerardo M. E. Perillo
Original Paper

Abstract

The phytoplankton of the Bahía Blanca Estuary, Argentina, has been surveyed since 1978. Chlorophyll a, phytoplankton abundance, species composition and physico-chemical variables have been fortnightly recorded. From 1978 to 2002, a single winter–early spring diatom bloom has dominated the main pattern of phytoplankton interannual variability. Such pattern showed noticeable changes since 2006: the absence of the typical winter bloom and changes in phenology, together with the replacement of the dominant blooming species, i.e. Thalassiosira curviseriata, and the appearance of different blooming species, i.e. Cyclotella sp. and Thalassiosira minima. The new pattern showed relatively short-lived diatom blooms that spread throughout the year. In addition, shifts in the phytoplankton size structure toward small-sized diatoms, including the replacement of relatively large Thalassiosira spp. by small Cyclotella species and Chaetoceros species have been noticed. The changes in the phenology and composition of the phytoplankton are mainly attributed to warmer winters and the extremely dry weather conditions evidenced in recent years in the Bahía Blanca area. Changing climate has modified the hydrological features in the inner part of the estuary (i.e. higher temperatures and salinities) and potentially triggered the reorganization of the phytoplankton community. This long-term study provides evidence on species-specific and structural changes at the bottom of the pelagic food web likely related to the recent hydroclimatic conditions in a temperature estuary of the southwestern Atlantic.

Keywords

Phytoplankton Phytoplankton Community Chlorophyll Concentration Phytoplankton Bloom Cyclotella 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to U. Sommer, V. N. de Jonge, G. Plumley and S. Hawkins for their enriching comments and suggestions to improve this manuscript. V.A.G. acknowledges the hospitality and support of the research group of Prof. U. Sommer during her stay at the IfM-GEOMAR funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Técnica e Innovación Productiva (MINCYT) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). We also thank W. Melo for preparing the map of the estuary, and R. Astesuain, A. Astesuain and J. Arlengui for their participation in the field work and the analytical determination of chlorophyll. We thank M. Winder and two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments to improve the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valeria A. Guinder
    • 1
  • Cecilia A. Popovich
    • 2
  • Juan Carlos Molinero
    • 3
  • Gerardo M. E. Perillo
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía (IADO-CONICET)Bahía BlancaArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ficología y Micología, Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y FarmaciaUniversidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)Bahía BlancaArgentina
  3. 3.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, FB3, Marine Ökologie, IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  4. 4.Departamento de GeologíaUniversidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)Bahía BlancaArgentina

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