Phaeocystis blooms and eutrophication of the continental coastal zones of the North Sea
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It is suggested that novel nuisance algal blooms can result from major shifts in N/P or NH4+/NO3- ratios. Inland hydraulic engineering caused a shift from P-limitation (before 1977) towards N-limitation (after 1977) in the Marsdiep area (Dutch coastal waters). Following this shift the colonial flagellate Phaeocystis sp. became more abundant and started to bloom during the nutrient-controlled period (later spring to autumn). Competition experiments showed that the N/P ratio can influence the species composition of marine phytoplankton. In addition, the natural distribution of some species like Rhodomonas sp. and Emiliania huxleyi may be affected by the frequency of nutrient pulses in the system. Phaeocystis was a poor competitor under P-limitation and a good competitor under N-limitation. Colony formation was absent under P- and NH4+-limitation. Colonies were formed under NO3--limitation. These preliminary results suggest that colony-forming Phaeocystic blooms may be restricted (besides light-controlled environments) to those N-controlled environments where nitrate is consumed by Phaeocystis. The distribution of Phaeocystis along the European continental coast is evaluated on the basis of its ability to compete for nutrients and to form colonies when nitrate is the major N-source.
KeywordsPhytoplankton German Bight Emiliania Huxleyi Poor Competitor Ditylum Brightwellii
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