, Volume 549, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Phytoplankton Assemblages and Their Dominant Pigments in the Nervion River Estuary

  • Sergio Seoane
  • Aitor Laza
  • Iñaki Urrutxurtu
  • Emma OriveEmail author
Primary Research Paper


In the Nervion River estuary surface samples were taken from March to September 2003 at six sites covering most of the salinity range with the aim to know the biomass and taxonomic composition of phytoplankton assemblages in the different segments. Nine groups of algae including cyanobacteria, diatoms, dinoflagellates, chlorophytes, prasinophytes, euglenophytes, chrysophytes, haptophytes, raphidophytes and cryptophytes were identified by means of a combination of pigment analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and microscopic observations of live and preserved cells. Diatoms, chlorophytes and cryptophytes were the most abundant algae in terms of cells number, whereas fucoxanthin, peridinin, chlorophyll b (Chl b) and alloxanthin were the most abundant auxiliary pigments. Based on multiple regression analysis, in the outer estuary (stations 0, 1, 2 and 3) about 93% of the chlorophyll a (Chl a) could be explained by algae containing fucoxanthin and by algae containing Chl b, whereas in the rest of the estuary most of the Chl a (about 98%) was accounted for by fucoxanthin, Chl b and alloxanthin containing algae. The study period coincided with that of most active phytoplankton growth in the estuary and fucoxanthin was by far the dominant among those signature pigments. Several diatoms, chrysophytes, haptophytes and raphydophytes were responsible for fucoxanthin among identified species. Besides, dinoflagellates with a pigment pattern corresponding to chrysophytes and type 4 haptophytes were identified among fucoxanthin-bearing algae. Cryptophytes were the most abundant species among those containing alloxanthin. The maximum of Chl b registered at the seaward end in April coincided with a bloom of the prasinophytes Cymbomonas tetramitiformis, whereas the Chl b maxima in late spring and summer were accounted for by prasinophytes in the middle and outer estuary and by several species of chlorophytes in the middle and inner estuary. Other Chl b containing algae were euglenophytes and the dinoflagellate Peridinium chlorophorum. Dinoflagellates constituted generally a minor component of the phytoplankton.


chlorophylls carotenoids HPLC phytoplankton Nervion River estuary estuaries 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Seoane
    • 1
  • Aitor Laza
    • 1
  • Iñaki Urrutxurtu
    • 1
  • Emma Orive
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko UnibertsitateaBilbaoSpain

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