Diatom bloom in the tidal freshwater zone of a turbid and shallow estuary, Rupert Bay (James Bay, Canada)

  • M. A. De Sève
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 90)


Phytoplankton biomass and species composition were studied from June to September 1991 at the mouth of four major rivers and in the freshwater (sal. 0‰), the estuarine (sal. 2–10‰) and the coastal (sal. 10–12‰) zones of Rupert Bay, located at the southeast tip of James Bay, Canada.

A chlorophyll a maximum (5–14 μg 1− 1) was observed in the freshwater zone from July to September. Chlorophyll values were low at the mouth of the rivers and in the estuarine and coastal zones (chl a < 1.00 μg 1− 1 ). Diatoms were dominant in the freshwater zone (30–80% abundance), with flagellates dominating in the estuarine and coastal zones (60–95% abundance). Diversity was low (H′: 1.5–2.5) in the freshwater zone and decreased seaward (H′: 0.5–1.5).

The diatom bloom was composed almost exclusively of the autochthonous planktonic diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana Kütz., which contributed 25–85% of the species composition, and of the subdominant benthic species Diploneis smithii, Navicula lanceolata and Surirella robusta. Peak abundance occurred upstream of the turbidity maximum, in the tidal freshwater zone. In this zone the mean photic depth was 1 m and residence time was from 7 to 8 days during the bloom. Residence time is considered to be the dominant factor controlling the phytoplankton bloom, with light not acting as a limiting factor. The high turbidity due to resuspension and shallow depth of the bay controlled the species composition.

Key words

diatom blooms freshwater estuary Rupert Bay Cyclotella meneghiniana 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, G. F. 1986. Silica, diatoms and a freshwater productivity maximum in Atlantic coastal Plain Estuaries, Chesapeake Bay. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci. 22: 183–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cadée, G. C. 1978. Primary production and chlorophyll in the Zaire river, estuary and plume. Neth J Sea Res. 12: 368–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Conomos, T. J. & D. H. Peterson. 1977. Suspended particle transport and circulation in San Francisco Bay: an overview. In M. Wiley (ed.), Estuarine Processes, vol. II. Academic Press, New York: 82–97.Google Scholar
  4. De Sève, M. 1993. Océanographie biologique de la baie de Rupert: Phytoplancton et Zooplancton. Groupe Environnement Littoral, Rapport à la Vice-présidence Environnement, Hydro-Québec, Montréal, Québec, 68 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Fisher, H. B., E. J. List, J. Imberger & N. H. Brooks. 1979. Mixing in inland and coastal waters. Academic Press, New York, 475 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Fisher, T. R., L. W. Harding, Jr., D. W. Stanley & L. G. Ward. 1988. Phytoplankton, nutrients and turbidity in the Chesapeake, Delaware and Hudson Estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci. 27: 61–93.Google Scholar
  7. Haertal, L., L. Osterberg, H. Curl & P. Kilopark. 1969. Nutrient and plankton ecology of the Columbia River Estuary. Ecology 50: 962–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hansen, D. & M. Rattrey. 1966. New dimensions and estuary classification. Limnol Oceanogr. 11: 319–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ingram, G. 1977. Océanographie physique de l’estuaire de la baie de Rupert. GIROG, Rapport à la S.E.B.J. Complexe N.B.R. (mandat SEBJ/NBR-E-3). Société de la Baie James, Montréal, Québec, 43 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Jackson, R. H., P. J. Le B. Williams & I. R. Joint. 1987. Freshwater phytoplankton in the low salinity region of the River Tamer Estuary. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci. 25: bx299–311.Google Scholar
  11. Levasseur, M. E., J. C. Therriault & L. Legendre. 1984. Hierarchical control of phytoplankton succession by physical factors. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 19: 211–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lippson, A. J., M. S. Haire, A. F. Holand, F. Jacobs, J. Jensen, R. L. Moran-Johnson, T. T. Polgar & W. A. Richkus. 1979. Environmental atlas of the Potomac estuary. Martin-marietta Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, 279 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Lowe, R. L. 1974. Environmental requirements and pollution tolerance of freshwater diatoms. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, 660 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Ouellet, Y. 1977. Etude à l’aide d’un modèle mathématique, de la circulation hydrodynamique, de la propagation de la marée et de la distribution de la salinité dans la baie de Rupert. GIROQ-CENTREAU Rapport à la S.E.B.J. Complexe N.B.R. (mandat SEBJ/NBR-E-3). Société de la Baie James, Montréal, Québec, 24 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Peterson, D. H., J. F. Festa & T. J. Conomos. 1978. Numerical simulation of dissolved silica in the San Francisco Bay. Estuar coast mar Sci. 7: 99–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Roff, J. C., R. C. Pett, G. F. Rogers & W. P. A. Budgell. 1980. A study of plankton ecology in Chesterfield Inlet, Northwest Territories: an arctic estuary. In V. A. Kennedy (ed.), Estuarine Perspectives. Academic Press, New York: 185–197.Google Scholar
  17. Schuchardt, B. & M. Schirmer. 1991. Phytoplankton maxima in the tidal freshwater reaches of two coastal plain estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci. 32: 187–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. S. E. B. J. 1978. Complexe Nooaway, Broadback, Rupert. Rapport d’avancement des études en date de février 1978 relatives aux possibilités d’installations d’usines hydroélectriques sur les rivières Broadback et Rupert. Société d’Énergie de la Baie James, Montréal, Québec, 82 pp.Google Scholar
  19. Shaffer, G. P. & M. Sullivan. 1988. Water column productivity attributable to displaced benthic diatoms in well-mixed estuaries. J Phycol. 24: 132–140.Google Scholar
  20. Shannon, C. E. & W. Weaver. 1949. The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 117 pp.Google Scholar
  21. Simard, Y. & L. Legendre. 1977. Complexe N.B.R. Étude sur la baie de Rupert: Océanographie biologique de la baie de Rupert au cours de l’été 1976. GIROQ. (Mandat SEBJ/ NBR-E-3). Société de la Baie James, Montréal, Québec, 95 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Stickland, J. D. H. & T. R. Parsons. 1972. A practical handbook of seawater analysis, 2nd edn. Fish Res Board Can Bull. 167: 1–301.Google Scholar
  23. Utermöhl, H. 1958. Zur Vervollkommung der quantitativen Phytoplankton-Methodik. Mitt Int Verein Theor Angew Limnol 9: 1–38.Google Scholar
  24. Veilleux, L., R. G. Ingram & A. Van Der Baaren. 1992. A description of summer physical oceanographic conditions in Rupert Bay ( James Bay, Canada). Arctic 45: 258–268.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. De Sève
    • 1
  1. 1.M. A. De Sève ConsultantsMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations