Inter and Intra-Annual Dynamics of Dinoflagellate Bloom Species in the James River, An Urban Tidal Estuary In Virginia, USA

Title

Inter and Intra-Annual Dynamics of Dinoflagellate Bloom Species in the James River, An Urban Tidal Estuary In Virginia, USA

College

College of Sciences

Program

Ph.D. Oceanography

Publication Date

3-28-2019

Abstract

Algal blooms occur throughout the year in the tidal tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. The James River is the largest river in Virginia and third largest tributary of the Bay. Of the nearly 1500 species found in the estuary, two dinoflagellates, Heterocapsa triquetra and Cochlodinium polykrikoides, have historically formed large seasonal algal blooms in spring and summer respectively, lasting several weeks to months annually. Additionally, the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium monilatum has emerged as an annual late summer bloom producer with increasing abundance in the region over the last nine years. These blooms have occurred in the lower James River, including meso- and polyhaline waters. Presented here are comparisons of the temporal and spatial extent and magnitude of these three dinoflagellate species over a two-year period (2014-2015). In 2014 dinoflagellate abundance was low compared to prior years. In contrast, massive spring and summer blooms occurred in 2015 with extended durations. In 2015, H. triquetra reached a maximum concentration of >84,000 cells/ml, with densities >103 cells/mL observed over a six week period, compared to no visible bloom the year before and a maximum of only 6200 cells/ml. Similarly in 2015, C. polykrikoides reached maximum cell densities of >41,000 cells/ml, with densities >103 cells/mL observed over a seven week period, compared to a maximum the year before of 7,500 cells/ml over a three week period in August 2015, with no bloom recorded in 2014. Multiple environmental parameters likely contributed to the interannual variability in bloom formation and duration. Temperature appeared to be a significant factor, with cooler than average surface water during the summer of 2014. In addition, the effect of prevailing wind patterns, precipitation, salinity, nutrient concentrations and sediment re-suspension were examined.

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Inter and Intra-Annual Dynamics of Dinoflagellate Bloom Species in the James River, An Urban Tidal Estuary In Virginia, USA


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