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Long-term nutrient variation trends and their potential impact on phytoplankton in the southern Yellow Sea, China

Abstract

The concentration and composition of nutrients, such as N, P, and Si, respond to biogeochemical processes and in turn, impact the phytoplanktons’ community structure and primary production. In this study, historical data was systematically analyzed to identify long-term variations in nutrient trends, red tide frequency, phytoplankton community abundance, and dominant species succession in the southern Yellow Sea (SYS). Results showed that N/P concentration ratios dramatically increased as a function of increasing dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations, and Si/N concentration ratios were generally larger than 1, indicating that N limitation morphed to P limitation and potentially to Si limitation, which impacted the phytoplankton community. Furthermore, inter-annual trends over the past 50 years show that phytoplankton community abundance has been higher in spring and summer, relative to autumn and winter. Moreover, with respect to red tide frequency, diatom abundance gradually decreased, while that of dinoflagellates gradually increased. Dominant species succession showed that the phytoplankton community exhibited an evident tendency to transform from diatoms to dinoflagellates. These research results clearly depict the presence of an important correlation between the phytoplankton community and nutrient structure in the SYS.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to colleagues from the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center and Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute for the help of data and constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Hao Guo.

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Foundation item: The UNDP/GEF YSLME Phase II Project.

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Wang, Y., Liu, Y., Guo, H. et al. Long-term nutrient variation trends and their potential impact on phytoplankton in the southern Yellow Sea, China. Acta Oceanol. Sin. 41, 54–67 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13131-022-2031-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13131-022-2031-3

Key words

  • southern Yellow Sea
  • nutrients structure
  • succession of phytoplankton community
  • diatom
  • dinoflagellate