Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 769–781 | Cite as

Influence of environmental factors on spatial–temporal distribution patterns of dinoflagellate cyst communities in the South China Sea

  • Yangchun Gao
  • Yanhong Dong
  • Haitao Li
  • Aibin ZhanEmail author
Original Paper


The spatial–temporal distribution of dinoflagellate cyst (i.e., dinocyst) communities is crucial for understanding the detailed mechanisms of recurrence and spread of harmful algae blooms in marine ecosystems. Here, we employed the newly developed high-throughput sequencing-based metabarcoding to characterize dinocyst communities collected from the South China Sea. Further, we clarified the spatial–temporal distribution patterns and analyzed the correlation between environmental factors and the observed patterns to investigate how they are influenced by environmental factors. Our results showed that the spatial distribution of dinocyst species richness and abundance varied greatly between sampling sites in different seasons. Both redundancy and Pearson analyses showed that the chemical oxygen femand, which could explained 35.0% of the total community variation, had positive correlations with heterotrophic dinocyst richness and negative correlations with autotrophic dinocysts richness. We did not find significant correlations between heavy metals and any features of dinocyst species richness. No environmental factor showed significant effects on dinocyst abundance based on forward selection after excluding colinearity; however, Pearson’s correlation analyses showed that the abundance of heterotrophic dinocysts presented a significant positive correlation with Mn (P < 0.05). Our results showed that the influence of environmental factors on spatial–temporal distribution of dinocyst species could be region- and/or environment-specific. Consequently, we suggest that detailed investigations should be performed to clarify the influence of varied environmental factors on dinocyst community characteristics in different regions and/or seasons.


Algae Dinoflagellate cysts High-throughput sequencing Marine sediment Metabarcoding 



This work was partially supported by the 100-Talent Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to A.Z.

Author contributions

A.Z., H.L. and Y.D. conceived the study. Y.G., Y.D., H.L and A.Z. designed the experiment. Y.G. and H.L. conducted the experiments and analyzed the data. Y.G., Y.D., H.L and A.Z. wrote the manuscript. All authors reviewed and commented on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities and are mentioned in the acknowledgements, if applicable.

Supplementary material

12526_2018_850_MOESM1_ESM.doc (16.4 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 16825 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.South China Sea Environmental Monitoring Center, State Oceanic AdministrationGuangzhouChina

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