Seasonal variation of size-fractionated phytoplankton in the Pearl River estuaryReport as inadecuate

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Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 19, pp 2303–2314

First Online: 18 July 2013Received: 13 May 2012Accepted: 29 December 2012DOI: 10.1007-s11434-013-5823-1

Cite this article as: Li, L., Lu, S., Jiang, T. et al. Chin. Sci. Bull. 2013 58: 2303. doi:10.1007-s11434-013-5823-1


To investigate the dynamics of phytoplankton size structure in the Pearl River estuary, concentrations of size-fractionated chlorophyll a Chl a were determined during four cruises carried out in 2008 and 2010. The distribution of Chl a in this geographical location showed a high degree of temporal variation. Chl a concentrations were highest in autumn, approximately three times higher than those in summer and winter. Microphytoplankton was the dominant contributor, accounting for 66.9% of the Chl a concentration in autumn 2008. In summer and spring 2008, nano-sized cells dominated the phytoplankton population throughout the study region. During the winter cruise, two different areas of water were found, characterized by 1 low salinity and high nutrient content and 2 high salinity and low nutrient content; nano- and picophytoplankton co-dominated the first area, while microphytoplankton dominated the second. It is arguable that grazing could have played a role in determining phytoplankton community size structure in winter. Nutrient concentrations were assumed not to limit phytoplankton growth during the investigation period. Size-differential capacity in competing for the resources available under different hydrodynamic conditions seemed to be the major factor in determining seasonal variation in the structure of the phytoplankton communities. High N:P ratios in the Pearl River estuary had major implications for nutrient pollution control. Our results indicated that studies of phytoplankton size structure provide greater insight into phytoplankton dynamics and are necessary to better manage water quality in the Pearl River estuary.

Keywordsphytoplankton dominant species size-fractionated chlorophyll a Pearl River estuary This article is published with open access at

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Author: Li Li - SongHui Lu - Tao Jiang - Xia Li


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