PUMA
Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Mangoni O., Modigh M., Mozetic P., Bergamasco A., Rivaro P., Saggiomo V. Structure and photosynthetic properties of phytoplankton assemblages in a highly dynamic system, the Northern Adriatic Sea. In: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 77 (4) pp. 633 - 644. Academic Press Ltd Elsevier Science Ltd, 2008.
 
 
Abstract
(English)
The photosynthetic properties of phytoplankton populations as related to physical–chemical variations on small temporal and spatial scales and to phytoplankton size structure and pigment spectra were investigated in the Northern Adriatic Sea off the Po River delta in late winter 1997. Large diatoms (fucoxanthin) dominated the phytoplankton in the coastal area whereas small phytoflagellates (mainly 19′-hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin, chlorophyll b, 19′-butanoyloxyfucoxanthin) occurred outside the front. The front was defined by the steep gradient in density in the surface layer separating low-salinity coastal waters from the offshore waters. Physical features of the area strongly influenced phytoplankton biomass distributions, composition and size structure. After high volumes of Po River discharge several gyres and meanders occurred in the area off the river delta in February. Decreasing river discharge and the subsequent disappearance of the gyres and the spreading dilution of the river plume was observed in March. The dynamic circulation of February resulted in high photosynthetic capacity of the abundant phytoplankton population (>3.40 mg m−3). In March, the slow circulation and an upper low-salinity water layer, segregated from the deeper layers, resulted in lack of renewal of this water mass. The huge phytoplankton biomass, up to 15.77 mg chl a m−3, became nutrient depleted and showed low photosynthetic capacity. In February, an exceptionally high PmaxB, 20.11 mg C (mg chl a)−1 h−1 was recorded in the Po River plume area and average PmaxB was three-fold in February as compared to the March recordings, 10.50 mg C (mg chl a)−1 h−1 and 3.22 mg C (mg chl a)−1 h−1, respectively. The extreme variability and values of phytoplankton biomass in the innermost plume area was not always reflected in primary production. Modeling of circulation patterns and water mass resilience in the area will help to predict phytoplankton response and biomass distributions. In the frontal area, despite a considerable variability in environmental conditions, our findings have shown that the phytoplankton assemblages will compensate for nutrient depression and hydrographic constraints, by means of size and taxonomic composition and, as a result, the variability in the photosynthetic capacity was much less pronounced than that observed for other parameters.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.10.023
Subject phytoplankton
photosynthetic parameters
chlorophyll
HPLC pigments
Mediterranean sea
Northern Adriatic sea


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