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Spring phytoplankton assemblages in and around the maximum turbidity zone of the estuaries of the Elbe (Germany), the Schelde (Belgium/The Netherlands) and the Gironde (France)
Muylaert, K.; Sabbe, K. (1999). Spring phytoplankton assemblages in and around the maximum turbidity zone of the estuaries of the Elbe (Germany), the Schelde (Belgium/The Netherlands) and the Gironde (France). J. Mar. Syst. 22(2-3): 133-149.
In: Journal of Marine Systems. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Amsterdam. ISSN 0924-7963; e-ISSN 1879-1573
Peer reviewed article  

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    Aquatic communities > Plankton > Phytoplankton
    Inflow > River discharge
    Population dynamics
    Population functions > Mortality
    Properties > Physical properties > Turbidity
    Seasons > Spring
    Surveys > Biological surveys > Plankton surveys
    Water bodies > Coastal waters > Coastal landforms > Coastal inlets > Estuaries
    Skeletonema costatum (Greville) Cleve, 1873 [WoRMS]; Thalassiosira P.T. Cleve, 1873 emend. Hasle, 1973 [WoRMS]
    ANE, France, Gironde Estuary [Marine Regions]; ANE, Germany, Elbe Estuary [Marine Regions]; Belgium, Zeeschelde [Marine Regions]
    Marine/Coastal; Brackish water
Author keywords
    phytoplankton; Elbe estuary; Schelde estuary; Gironde

Authors  Top 
  • Muylaert, K.
  • Sabbe, K., more

    In spring 1993 phytoplankton samples were taken along the longitudinal salinity gradient of the estuaries of the Elbe, Schelde and Gironde. A minimum in phytoplankton abundance, biomass and diversity was observed in the inner to upper reaches of all estuaries, suggesting massive mortality in these zones. Due to a combination of high turbidity and high river runoff, phytoplankton of the Gironde estuary differed in species composition and had lower cell abundancies and biomass compared with Elbe and Schelde. Phytoplankton structure and biomass of the polyhaline reaches of the Elbe and Schelde were quite comparable. They were characterized by the diatoms Skeletonema costatum and several Thalassiosira spp. and most probably developed in situ. The presence of tychoplanktonic species in these reaches indicates exchange with the intertidal flats. On the other hand, some marked differences were observed in the upper and tidal freshwater reaches of these two estuaries. In the oligohaline Schelde stations, phytoplankton populations were dominated by the diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana. The diatom Stephanodiscus hantzschii was dominant in the limnetic stations of the Elbe estuary. Despite the unfavourable light climate, the presence of the halophilous diatom C. meneghiniana in the Schelde estuary might indicate in situ development of phytoplankton populations. This could be attributed to the high residence time and the absence of grazers due to oxygen stress. In the Elbe, river runoff is too high (at least in spring) to permit in situ development of phytoplankton in the upper and freshwater tidal reaches.

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