Algal blooms are dynamic phenomena, often attributed to environmental parameters that vary on short timescales (e.g., hours to days). Phytoplankton monitoring programs are largely designed to examine long-term trends and interannual variability. In order to better understand and evaluate the relationships between water quality variables and the genesis of algal blooms, daily samples were collected over a 34 day period in the eutrophic Lafayette River, a tidal tributary within Chesapeake Bay's estuarine complex, during spring 2006. During this period two distinct algal blooms occurred; the first was a cryptomonad bloom and this was followed by a bloom of the mixotrophic dinoflagellate, Gymnodinium instriatum. Chlorophyll a, nutrient concentrations, and physical and chemical parameters were measured daily along with phytoplankton abundance and community composition. While 65 phytoplankton species from eight major taxonomic groups were identified in samples and total micro- and nano-phytoplankton cell densities ranged from 5.8 × 106 to 7.8 × 107 cells L-1, during blooms, cryptomonads and G. instriatum were 91.6% and 99.0%, respectively, of the total phytoplankton biomass during blooms. The cryptomonad bloom developed following a period of rainfall and concomitant increases in inorganic nitrogen concentrations. Nitrate, nitrite and ammonium concentrations 0 to 5 days prior were positively lag-correlated with cryptomonad abundance. In contrast, the G. insriatum bloom developed during periods of low dissolved nitrogen concentrations and their abundance was negatively correlated with inorganic nitrogen concentrations.
Original Publication Citation
Egerton, T.A., Morse, R.E., Marshall, H.G., & Mulholland, M.R. (2014). Emergence of algal blooms: The effects of short-term variability in water quality on phytoplankton abundance, diversity, and community composition in a tidal estuary. Microorganisms, 2(1), 33-57. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms2010033
Egerton, Todd A.; Morse, Ryan E.; Marshall, Harold G.; and Mulholland, Margaret R., "Emergence of Algal Blooms: The Effects of Short-Term Variability in Water Quality on Phytoplankton Abundance, Diversity, and Community Composition in a Tidal Estuary" (2014). OEAS Faculty Publications. 187.