Spatiotemporal Assessment of Phytoplankton Communities in the Chilika Lagoon

Part of the Wetlands: Ecology, Conservation and Management book series (WECM, volume 6)


Phytoplankton are the primary producers in aquatic ecosystem and play crucial role in the nutrient cycling, carbon fixation, and regulating the overall food-web dynamics. In addition to ensuring ecological services, phytoplankton species composition is also considered an efficient bio-indicator of the water quality. Thus, phytoplankton composition, diversity, and their distribution could be used as a biological proxy to assess the ecological health of a water body. Considering the ecological significance of phytoplankton, various studies have targeted them to understand their spatiotemporal variation and environmental drivers in the Chilika lagoon. Phytoplankton community structure of Chilika lagoon is influenced by several environmental factors (nutrients, light, and salinity) of which salinity predominantly determines the composition and distribution of phytoplankton communities. In Chilika lagoon, spatial variation in salinity regime provides a variety of habitats (e.g. oligohaline (0–5 ppt), mesohaline (5–18 ppt), and polyhaline (>18 ppt)) for the proliferation of freshwater, estuarine, and marine phytoplankton forms. Based on the published literature, a total of 739 phytoplankton species have been documented from the Chilika lagoon, which included a diverse assemblage of species spectrum represented by Bacillariophyta (270 species), Dinophyta (88 species), Cyanophyta (103 species), Chlorophyta (178 species), Euglenophyta (92 species), Chrysophyta (5 species) and Xanthophyta (3 species). Among these, Bacillariophyta has been shown to be the most diverse and abundant in the phytoplankton communities. The total inventory of 709 phytoplankton species during the post-restoration study (2000–2014) included 612 new records which were documented for the first time from Chilika lagoon. Long-term systemic monitoring of phytoplankton is essential to understand their intrinsic spatiotemporal variability and also to recover maximum species diversity in lagoon. Further, continuous and detailed observation of phytoplankton community is necessary to monitor the occurrence of toxic species and harmful algal blooms. In addition to the application of classical microscopy based taxonomic approach to document phytoplankton species diversity, efforts should also be directed to integrate the molecular tools such as high-throughput DNA sequencing to understand the genetic diversity of smaller size nano-phytoplankton and pico- phytoplankton in the lagoon ecosystem.


Phytoplankton Coastal Lagoon Chilika Brackish Salinity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wetland Research and Training CentreChilika Development AuthorityBalugaonIndia

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