Potential phytoplankton indicator species for monitoring Baltic coastal waters in the summer period

  • Andres Jaanus
  • Kaire Toming
  • Seija Hällfors
  • Kaire Kaljurand
  • Inga Lips
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 207)


There are very few time series documenting clear trends of change in the biomass of total phytoplankton or single taxa that coincide with trends of increasing nutrient concentrations. Weekly or biweekly monitoring since 1997 on a cross section of the central Gulf of Finland (NE Baltic Sea) with similar climatic and hydrographic conditions, but different nutrient levels, provided a uniform dataset. In order to evaluate seasonal (June–September) patterns of phytoplankton succession, more than 1,200 samples were statistically analyzed by selecting 12 dominant taxa using wet weight biomass values. In addition, the continuously measured hydrographic parameters on board the ships of opportunity, and simultaneous nutrient analyses gave high frequency information on the water masses. The objective of this study was to identify the taxa that may prove indicative in the assessment of eutrophication in the appropriate monitoring time periods. None of the most common bloom-forming species (Aphanizomenon sp., Nodularia spumigena, and Heterocapsa triquetra) showed reliable correlations with enhanced nutrient concentrations. The species we suggest as reliable eutrophication indicators—oscillatorialean cyanobacteria and the diatoms Cyclotella choctawhatcheeana and Cylindrotheca closterium—showed the best relationships with total phosphorus concentrations. Their maxima appear toward the end of July or in August–September when phytoplankton community structure is more stable, and less frequent observations may give adequate results. Another diatom, Skeletonema costatum, exhibited stronger correlations with dissolved inorganic and total nitrogen in June, during the period of the summer phytoplankton minimum.


Phytoplankton species composition Nutrients Monitoring Baltic Sea 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andres Jaanus
    • 1
  • Kaire Toming
    • 1
  • Seija Hällfors
    • 2
  • Kaire Kaljurand
    • 1
  • Inga Lips
    • 3
  1. 1.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia
  2. 2.Marine Research CentreFinnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Marine Systems InstituteTallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia

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