Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 3 (2016)

Primary productivity and phytoplankton dynamics in a subtropical estuary: a multiple timescale approach

Rafael Antonio Parizzi
Universidade Federal do Paraná , Brazil

Eunice Da Costa Machado
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro de Estudos do Mar , Brazil

Camila Prestes Dos Santos Tavares
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro de Estudos do Mar , Brazil

Luciano Felício Fernandes
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Departamento de Botânica , Brazil

Mauricio Garcia De Camargo
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro de Estudos do Mar , Brazil

Luiz Laureno Mafra Jr.
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro de Estudos do Mar , Brazil


Temporal variability of physicochemical parameters and phytoplankton primary productivity, abundance and composition were investigated at Babitonga Bay, southern Brazil, using a hierarchical sampling design on the scales of months, weeks and days during spring 2012 and summer 2013. Only temperature, respiration rates and concentrations of dissolved oxygen and silicate exhibited significant differences in the greatest timescale (seasons: spring; summer). In contrast, most physicochemical parameters, such as salinity and the concentration of nitrogen compounds, varied mainly among weeks and days. This short-scale variability was similarly observed for the microphytoplankton abundance, ranging from 0.04 to 1.7.106 cells L–1 during a bloom of the diatom Skeletonema costatum. Two major phytoplankton assemblages were associated with high primary production rates: > 30 μm centric diatoms such as Cyclotella spp. and Cymatodiscus sp., in spring; and a summer assemblage dominated by smaller, bloom-forming diatoms (S. costatum and Eucampia cornuta). Primary production ranged from 10.5 to 1793 mg C m–2 d–1 and varied significantly between days and months, being associated with the photosynthetic active radiation level and weather conditions on the sampling day. Abundance of specific plankton taxa appeared controlled by trophic interactions, as revealed for the mixotrophic, toxic dinoflagellate Dinophysis acuminata complex and its prey, the ciliate Mesodinium rubrum.


primary production; phytoplankton; physicochemical parameters; temporal variability; different time scales; Babitonga Bay; Dinophysis acuminata

Full Text:



Abreu P.A., Bergesch A., Proença L.A., et al. 2010. Short- and long-term chlorophyll-a variability in the shallow microtidal Patos Lagoon estuary, southern Brazil. Estuar. Coast. 33: 554-569.

Asmus R. 1982. Field measurements on seasonal variation of the activity of primary producers on a sandy tidal flat in the Northern Wadden Sea. J. Sea Res. 16: 389-402.

Almeida M.A., Cunha M.A., Alcântara F. 2005. Relationship of bacterioplankton production with primary production and respiration in a shallow estuarine system (Ria de Aveiro, NW Portugal). Microb. Res. 160: 315-328. PMid:16035244 Azevedo I.C., Duarte P.M., Bordalo A.A. 2006. Pelagic metabolism of the Douro estuary (Portugal): Factors controlling primary production. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 69: 133-146.

Bell R.G., Hume T.M., Dolphin T.J., et al. 1997. Characterization of physical environmental factors on an intertidal sandflat, Manukau Harbour, New Zealand. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 216: 11-31.

Biddanda B., Ogdahl S., Benner R. 1994. Plankton respiration and carbon flux through bacterioplankton on the Louisiana shelf. Limnol. Oceanogr. 39: 1259-1275.

Brandini F.P. 1985. Seasonal succession of the phytoplankton in the bay of Paranaguá (Paraná State - Brazil). Braz. J. Biol. 45: 687-694.

Camacho F.P., Souza-Conceição J.M. 2007. Distribuição espaço-temporal da clorofila-a e variáveis ambientais em praias estuarinas da ilha de São Francisco do Sul, Santa Catarina (Baía da Babitonga, Sul do Brasil). Bol. Tec. Cient. CEPENE. 15: 9-19 (in Portuguese).

Chen C.T.A., Borges A.V. 2009. Reconciling opposing views on carbon cycling in the coastal ocean: Continental shelves as sinks and near-shore ecosystems as sources of atmospheric CO2. Deep-Sea Res. part II. 56: 578-590.

Cloern J.E. 1987. Turbidity as a control on phytoplankton biomass and productivity in estuaries. Cont. Shelf Res. 7: 1367-1381.

Cloern J.E., Jassby A.D. 2010. Patterns and scales of phytoplankton variability in estuarine-coastal ecosystems. Estuar. Coast. 33: 230-241.

Cloern J.E., Foster S.Q., Kleckner A.E. 2014. Phytoplankton primary production in the world's estuarine-coastal ecosystems. Biogeosciences 1: 2477-2501.

Cremer M.J., Morales R.D.P., Oliveira M.N. 2006. Diagnóstico ambiental da Baía da Babitonga. UNIVILLE, Joinville, Brazil, 256 pp (in Portuguese).

DENIT/IME. 2004. Estudos Ambientais da Baía da Babitonga - Canal do Linguado. Relatório Final dos Estudos da Baía da Babitonga/Canal do Linguado. Convênio DENIT/IME, Joinville, Brazil, 159 pp (in Portuguese).

Domingues R.B., Anselmo T.P., Barbosa A.B., et al. 2011. Light as a driver of phytoplankton growth and production in the freshwater tidal zone of a turbid estuary. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 91: 526-535.

Edler L., Elbrachter M. 2010. The Utermohl method for quantitative phytoplankton analysis. In: Karlson B., Cusack C., Bresnan E. (eds), Microscopic and molecular methods for quantitative phytoplankton analysis. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, Paris, pp. 13-20.

Escobedo J.F., Gomes E.N., Oliveira A.R., et al. 2011. Ratios of UV, PAR and NIR components to global solar radiation measured at Botucatu site in Brazil. Renewable Energy 36: 169-178.

FATMA - Fundação do Meio Ambiente de Santa Catarina. 2002. Atlas ambiental da região de Joinville: complexo hídrico da Baía da Babitonga. FATMA/GTZ, Florianópolis, Brazil, 139 pp (in Portuguese).

Fujiki H., Suganuma M. 2009. Carcinogenic aspects of protein phosphatase 1 and 2A inhibitors. Prog. Mol. Subcell. Biol. 46: 221-254. PMid:19184590

Fujita C.C., Odebrecht C. 2007. Short term variability of chlorophyll-a and phytoplankton composition in a shallow area of the Patos Lagoon estuary (southern Brazil). Atlântica, Rio Grande 29: 93-106.

Glé C., Del Amo Y., Sautour B., et al. 2008. Variability of nutrients and phytoplankton primary production in a shallow macrotidal coastal ecosystem (Arcachon Bay, France). Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 76: 642-656.

Grasshoff K., Ehrhardt M., Kremling K. 1983. Methods of Seawater Analysis. 2nd ed. Verlag Chemie, Weinheim, 419 pp.

Holmes W.R. 1970. The Secchi disk in turbid coastal waters. Limnol. Oceanogr. 15: 688-694.

Hoppenrath M., Elbrachter M., Drebes G. 2009. Marine Phytoplankton. Senckenberg Gesellschaft fur Naturforschung, Frank furt am Main, Germany, 264pp. PMCid:PMC2694157

IBAMA - Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e Recursos Renováveis. 1998. Proteção e Controle de Ecossistemas Brasileiros: Manguezal da Baía da Babitonga. Coleção Meio Ambiente, Brasília, Brazil, 145 pp (in Portuguese).

IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Censo Demográfico de 2010. Available at: Accessed on March 3rd 2015.

Iriarte A., Madariaga I., Diez-Garagarza F., et al. 1996. Primary plankton production, respiration and nitrification in a shallow temperate estuary during summer. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 208: 127-151.

Ishikawa A., Nishitani G., Kim Y.O., et al. 2014. Relationship between occurrence of the toxic dinoflagellate Dinophysis acuminata and ciliate Mesodinium rubrum in the coastal water of Japan. Abstract Book of the 16th International Conference on Harmful Algae. ISSHA, Wellington, New Zealand, 195 pp.

Jouenne F., Lefebvre S., Véron B., et al. 2005. Biological and physicochemical factors controlling short-term variability in phytoplankton primary production and photosynthetic parameters in a macrotidal ecosystem (eastern English Channel). Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 65: 421-439.

Kemp W.M., Sampou P.A., Garber J., et al. 1992. Seasonal depletion of oxygen from bottom waters of Chesapeake Bay, roles of benthic and planktonic respiration and physical exchange processes. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 85: 137-l52.

Kimmerer W.J., Parker A.E., Lidstrom U.E., et al. 2012. Short-term and interannual variability in primary production in the low-salinity zone of the San Francisco Estuary. Estuar. Coast. 35: 913-929.

Lalli C.M., Parsons T.R. 1997. Biological oceanography: an introduction. 2nd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 324 pp. PMCid:PMC1284026

Mafra L.L.Jr., Fernandes L.F., Proença L.A.O. 2006. Harmful algae and toxins in Paranaguá Bay, Brazil: Bases for monitoring. Braz. J. Oceanogr. 54: 107-121.

Mafra L.L.Jr., Tavares C.P.S., Schramm M.A. 2014. Diarrheic toxins in field-sampled and cultivated Dinophysis spp. cells from southern Brazil. J. Appl. Phycol. 26: 1727-1739.

Maier G., Glegg G.A., Tappin A.D., et al. 2012. A high resolution temporal study of phytoplankton bloom dynamics in the eutrophic Taw Estuary (SW England). Sci. Total Environ. 434: 228-239. PMid:21943722

Malone T., Conley D., Glibert P., et al. 1996. Scales of nutrient limited phytoplankton productivity: the Chesapeake Bay example. Estuaries 19: 371-385.

Morel A., Smith R.C. 1974. Relation between total quanta and total energy for aquatic photosynthesis. Limnol. Oceanogr. 19: 591-600.

Morrisey D.J., Underwood A.J., Stark J.S., et al. 1994. Temporal variation in concentrations of heavy-metals in marine sediments. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 38: 271-282.

Mortazavi B., Iverson R., Landing W., et al. 2000. Control of phytoplankton production and biomass in a river-dominated estuary: Apalachicola Bay, Florida, USA. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 198: 19-31.

Parizzi R.A., Souza-Conceição J.M., Lorenzi L., et al. 2013. Variação sazonal do fitoplâncton e parâmetros ambientais no canal do rio Palmital, Baía da Babitonga, sul do Brasil. Ciência & Natura. 35: 41-53.

Pianca C., Mazzini P.L.F., Siegle E. 2010. Brazilian offshore wave climate based on NWW3 reanalysis. Braz. J. Oceanogr. 58: 53-70.

Proença L.A.O., Schramm M.A., Tamanaha M.S., et al. 2007. Diarrhoetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) outbreak in subtropical southwest Atlantic. Harmful Algae News 33: 19-20.

Proença L.A.O., Fonseca R.S., Pinto T.O. 2011. Microalgas em área de cultivo do litoral de Santa Catarina. Ed. Rima, São Carlos, Brazil, 90 pp. (in Portuguese).

R Development Core Team. 2012. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Austria. Available at:

Reguera B., Riobó P., Rodríguez F., et al. 2014. Dinophysis Toxins: Causative organisms, distribution and fate in shellfish. Mar. Drugs 12: 394-461. PMid:24447996 PMCid:PMC3917280

Sandrini-Neto L., Camargo M.G. 2010. The R Development Core Team. General ANOVA Design (GAD): Analysis of variance from general principles. R package version 1.0.

Schettini C.A.F., Carvalho J.L.B. 1999. Caracterização hidrodinâmica do estuário do Rio Cubatão, Joinville. Notas Téc. Facimar. 3: 87–97.

Shikata T., Nagasoe S., Matsubara T., et al. 2008. Factors influencing the initiation of blooms of the raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo and the diatom Skeletonema costatum in a port in Japan. Limnol. Oceanogr. 53: 2503-2518.

Song X., Huang L., Zhang J., et al. 2004. Variation of phytoplankton biomass and primary production in Daya Bay during spring and summer. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 49: 1036-1044. PMid:15556190

Steidinger K.A., Jangen K. 1997. Dinoflagellates. In: Tomas C.R. (eds), Identifying marine diatoms and dinoflagellates. Academic Press, Florida, pp. 387-570.

Strickland J.D.H., Parsons T.R. 1972. A practical handbook of seawater analysis. 2nd ed. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa, pp. 167-311.

Tanaka T., Fujita N., Taniguchi A. 1997. Predator-prey eddy in heterotrophic nanoflagellate-bactéria relationships in a coastal marine environment: a new scheme for predator-prey associations. Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 13: 249-256.

Tibiriçá C.E.J.A., Fernandes L.F., Mafra L.L.Jr. 2015. Seasonal and spatial patterns of toxigenic species of Dinophysis and Pseudo-nitzschia in a subtropical Brazilian estuary. Braz. J. Oceanogr. 63: 17-32.

Tomas R.C. 1997. Identifying marine diatoms and dinoflagellates. Academic Press. Florida, 584 pp.

Truccolo E.C., Schettini C.A.F. 1999. Marés astronômicas na baía da Babitonga, SC. Braz. J. Aquat. Sci. Tech. 3: 57-66.

Underwood A.J. 1997. Experiments in ecology: their logical design and interpretation using analysis of variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 504 pp.

Valdiglesias V., Prego-Faraldo M.V., Pásaro E., et al. 2013. Okadaic Acid: More than a Diarrheic Toxin. Mar. Drugs 11: 4328-4349. PMid:24184795 PMCid:PMC3853731

Villar C.C., Spach H.L., Santos L.O. 2011. Fish fauna of Baía da Babitonga (southern Brazil), with remarks on species abundance, ontogenic stage and conservation status. Zootaxa 2734: 40-52.

Yasumoto T., Murata M., Oshima Y., et al. 1985. Diarrhetic shellfish toxins. Tetrahedron 41: 1019-1025.

Copyright (c) 2016 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support