Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 1134–1146 | Cite as

Differential Responses of Two Phytoplankton Communities from the Chubut River Estuary (Patagonia, Argentina) to the Combination of UVR and Elevated Temperature

  • E. Walter Helbling
  • Anastazia T. Banaszak
  • Virginia E. Villafañe


The combined impact of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and elevated temperature on the photosynthesis of phytoplankton communities from the two end members of the Chubut River estuary was studied using short- and long-term incubations. Samples from the river and seawater sections of the estuary were collected during the austral Spring (November 2011) and exposed to solar radiation (with and without UVR) under two temperatures: in situ and increased by 5 °C. The long-term incubations were designed to assess the potential acclimation of each phytoplankton community to the experimental conditions. Short-term incubations, at day 1 and day 5 of the acclimation period, included the determination of Photosynthesis vs. irradiance curves, Biological Weighting Functions and daily cycles of Chl-a fluorescence measurements, and were used as an estimation of the ability to cope with either increased temperature or UVR. There was a synergistic effect between UVR and temperature in the seawater community, with samples demonstrating a better photosynthetic response in the absence of UVR and at the in situ temperature. In contrast, temperature had an antagonistic effect when combined with UVR in the river community, with increased temperature counteracting the negative impact of UVR. Despite this, both communities showed an acclimation capacity toward UVR and increasing temperature. Our results point to a differential impact of global change variables on phytoplankton communities within the estuary, which affect photosynthesis and might influence the species composition with potential repercussions on the food web.


Global change Patagonia Photosynthesis Phytoplankton Temperature Ultraviolet radiation 



We thank S. Halac for her help during our experiments and P. Rodríguez for analyses of radiocarbon samples. We are also indebted to Drs. Gardner and Martinetto (editors of this special ESCO issue) and to two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions, which helped to improve our manuscript. This work was supported by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (MINCyT, Argentina Project MX/09/13)–Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT, México-Project J010.191 and B330.332), the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (PICT2007-01651, Argentina), the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (PIP No. 112-201001- 00228), the Cooperativa Eléctrica y de Servicios Rawson, and the Fundación Playa Unión. This is contribution No.135 of Estación de Fotobiología Playa Unión.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Walter Helbling
    • 1
  • Anastazia T. Banaszak
    • 2
  • Virginia E. Villafañe
    • 1
  1. 1.Estación de Fotobiología Playa Unión and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasRawsonArgentina
  2. 2.Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoPuerto MorelosMéxico

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