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Estuaries

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 287–300 | Cite as

A comparison of phytoplankton assemblages and environmental relationships in three estuarine rivers of the lower Chesapeake Bay

  • Harold G. Marshall
  • Raymond W. Alden
Article

Abstract

A 16-month data set of phytoplankton assemblages and environmental parameters were studied in the lower James, York (-Pamunkey), and Rappahannock rivers using several exploratory statistical approaches. Based on species composition and river station relationships, three site groups were established and subsequently identified as predominantly tidal fresh, oligo-mesohaline, and mesohaline sites. Phytoplankton assemblages within these rivers were influenced and subsequently augmented by the onset of the spring freshet which was different in 1986 and 1987. Five temporal assemblages of phytoplankters were also identified and designated into seasonal groupings of spring 1986, summer-fall, summer-winter, fall-winter, and winter-spring 1987. Discriminant analysis (MANOVA) evaluations were made for water quality parameters to site and seasonal phytoplankton assemblages and these relationships are discussed. Moving downstream along an oligohaline-mesohaline gradient, the nitrogen and phosphorus levels decreased and the phytoplankton composition was more similar at several corresponding site locations in the different rivers than at stations relatively close to each other in the same river. Within these data sets approximately 58% of the explained variance was associated with site (spatial) effects, 30% with temporal effects, and 12% with site-temporal interactions. A transition from dominant bloom-producing freshwater diatoms to estuarine species occurs from the tidally influenced freshwater zone downstream. This change may be rapid as the decline ofSkeletonema potamos, or more gradual, as withCyclotella striata andCyclotella meneghiania. These are replaced downstream bySkeletonema costatum, Cyclotella caspia, andLeptocylindrus minimus as dominant species.

Keywords

Phytoplankton Cyclotella Site Group Skeletonema Phytoplankton Assemblage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold G. Marshall
    • 1
  • Raymond W. Alden
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolk

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