Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 12, pp 8555–8572 | Cite as

Nutrient ratios and the complex structure of phytoplankton communities in a highly turbid estuary of Southeast Asia

  • Thuoc Van Chu
  • Jean-Pascal Torréton
  • Xavier Mari
  • Huyen Minh Thi Nguyen
  • Kha Thi Pham
  • Thu The Pham
  • Thierry Bouvier
  • Yvan Bettarel
  • Olivier Pringault
  • Corinne Bouvier
  • Emma Rochelle-NewallEmail author


Phytoplankton diversity and abundance in estuarine systems are controlled by many factors. Salinity, turbidity, and inorganic nutrient concentrations and their respective ratios have all been proposed as principal factors that structure phytoplankton diversity and influence the emergence of potentially toxic species. Although much work has been conducted on temperate estuaries, less is known about how phytoplankton diversity is controlled in tropical, monsoonal systems that are subject to large, seasonal shifts in hydrology and to rapidly changing land use. Here, we present the results of an investigation into the factors controlling phytoplankton species composition and distribution in a tropical, monsoonal estuary (Bach Dang estuary, North Vietnam). A total of 245 taxa, 89 genera from six algal divisions were observed. Bacillariophyceae were the most diverse group contributing to 51.4 % of the microalgal assemblage, followed by Dinophyceae (29.8 %), Chlorophyceae (10.2 %), Cyanophyceae (3.7 %), Euglenophyceae (3.7 %) and Dictyochophyceae (1.2 %). The phytoplankton community was structured by inorganic nutrient ratios (DSi:DIP and DIN:DIP) as well as by salinity and turbidity. Evidence of a decrease in phytoplankton diversity concomitant with an increase in abundance and dominance of certain species (e.g., Skeletonema costatum) and the appearance of some potentially toxic species over the last two decades was also found. These changes in phytoplankton diversity are probably due to a combination of land use change resulting in changes in nutrient ratios and concentrations and global change as both rainfall and temperature have increased over the last two decades. It is therefore probable in the future that phytoplankton diversity will continue to change, potentially favoring the emergence of toxic species in this system.


Vietnam Southeast Asia Phytoplankton diversity HAB 



This work was financed by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and the EC2CO project ‘HAIPHONG’, the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam (the MOST project on ‘Black Carbon’). We thank to the colleagues from the IMAGO Service Unit, IRD for their help with the chemical analyses. The National Hydro-Meteorological Service of Vietnam is thanked for the rainfall data. This article is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Do Trong Binh who passed away during the project.

Supplementary material

10661_2014_4024_MOESM1_ESM.doc (468 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 468 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thuoc Van Chu
    • 1
  • Jean-Pascal Torréton
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xavier Mari
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Huyen Minh Thi Nguyen
    • 1
  • Kha Thi Pham
    • 1
  • Thu The Pham
    • 1
  • Thierry Bouvier
    • 2
  • Yvan Bettarel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Olivier Pringault
    • 2
    • 4
  • Corinne Bouvier
    • 2
  • Emma Rochelle-Newall
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Marine Environment and Resources (IMER)Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST)HaiphongViet Nam
  2. 2.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 5119 ECOSYMMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 5119 ECOSYMHanoiViet Nam
  4. 4.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 5119 ECOSYMTunisTunisia
  5. 5.Aix-Marseille Université, Université de Toulon, CNRS/INSU, IRD, MIO, UM 110, 13288MarseilleFrance
  6. 6.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 7618 IEES-ParisParisFrance

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