Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No S1 (2016)

The ecology of plankton in biological oceanography: a tribute to Marta Estrada’s task

Jordi Solé
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain

Elisa Berdalet
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain

Laura Arin
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain

Lluïsa Cros
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain

Maximino Delgado
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain

Akira Kuwata
Tohokku National Fisheries Research Institute, Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency , Japan

Clara Llebot
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University , United States

Cèlia Marrasé
Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC , Spain


Plankton ecology has been the object of intense research and progress in the last few decades. This has been partly due to technological advances that have facilitated the multidisciplinary and high-resolution sampling of ecosystems and improved experimentation and analytical methodologies, and to sophisticated modelling. In addition, exceptional researchers have had the vision to integrate all these innovative tools to form a solid theoretical background in ecology. Here we provide an overview of the outstanding research work conducted by Professor Marta Estrada and her pioneering contribution to different areas of research in the last four decades. Her research in biological oceanography has mainly focussed on phytoplankton ecology, taxonomy and physiology, the functional structure of plankton communities, and physical and biological interactions in marine ecosystems. She has combined a variety of field and laboratory approaches and methodologies, from microscopy to satellite observations, including in-depth statistical data analysis and modelling. She has been a reference for scientists all over the world. Here, her contributions to plankton ecology are summarized by some of her students and closest collaborators, who had the privilege to share their science and everyday experiences with her.


phytoplankton ecology; taxonomy; functional structure of plankton communities; physical-biological interactions

Full Text:



Alcaraz M., Estrada M., Marrasé C. 1989. Interaction between turbulence and zooplankton in laboratory microcosms. Proc. 21st. E.M.B.S. Gdansk. pp. 191-204.

Arin L., Berdalet E., Marrasé C., et al. 1999. Particulate DNA and protein relative to microorganism biomass and detritus in the Catalano-Balearic Sea (NW Mediterranean) during stratification. J Plankton Res. 21: 1299-1316.

Arin L., Moran X.A., Estrada M. 2002. Phytoplankton size distribution and growth rates in the Alboran Sea (SW Mediterranean): short term variability related to mesoscale hydrodynamics. J. Plankton Res. 24: 1019-1033.

Arin L., Estrada M., Salat J., et al. 2005. Spatio-temporal variability of size fractionated phytoplankton on the Shelf adjacent to the Ebro river (NW Mediterranean). Cont. Shelf Res. 25: 1081-1095.

Arin L., Guillén J., Segura-Noguera M., et al. 2013. Open sea hydrographic forcing of nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics in a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 133: 116-128.

Arin L., Almeda R., Sampedro N., et al. 2014. Foam events due to a Phaeocystis sp. bloom along the Catalan Coast (NW Mediterranean). Harmful Algae News 48: 14-15.

Baretta J.W., Ebenhöh W., Ruardij P. 1995. The European regional seas ecosystem model: a complex marine ecosystem model. Nether. J. Sea Res. 33: 233-246.

Berdalet E. 1992. Effects of turbulence on the marine dinoflagellate Gymnodinium nelsonii. J. Phycol. 28: 267-272.

Berdalet E., Estrada M. 1993a. Effects of turbulence on several phytoplankton species. In: Smayda T., Shimizu Y. (eds), Toxic Phytoplankton Blooms in the Sea. 5th International Conference on Toxic Marine Phytoplankton, Rhode Island. USA. Book series: Developments in Marine Biology, 3: 737-740. Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. ISBN 0-444-89719-4.

Berdalet E., Estrada M. 1993b. Relationships between nucleic acid concentrations and primary production in the Catalan Sea (Northwestern Mediterranean). Mar. Biol. 117: 163-170.

Berdalet E., Estrada M. 2008. Modulación de la dinámica de HABs por la turbulencia de pequeña escala. In: Gilabert J. (ed.), Avances y Tendencias en Fitoplancton Tóxico y Biotoxinas. Actas de la IX Reunión Ibérica sobre Fitoplancton Tóxico y Biotoxinas, Cartagena, 7 al 10 de mayo de 2007, pp. 1-12.

Berdalet E., Latasa M., Estrada M. 1992. Variations in biochemical parameters of Heterocapsa sp. and Olisthodiscus luteus grown on a 12:12 h light:dark cycles. I. Cell cycle and nucleic acid composition. Hydrobiologia 238: 139-147.

Berdalet E., Latasa M., Estrada M. 1994. Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus starvation on nucleic acid and protein content of Heterocapsa sp. J. Plankton Res. 16: 303-316.

Berdalet E., Marrasé C., Estrada M., et al. 1996. Microbial community responses to Nitrogen- and Phosphorus-deficient nutrient inputs: microplankton dynamics and biochemical characterization. J. Plankton Res. 18: 1627-1641.

Berdalet E., Peters F., Koumandou L., et al. 2007. Species-specific physiological response of dinoflagellates to quantified small-scale turbulence. J. Phycol. 43: 965-977.

Brink K.H., Abrantes F.F.G., Bernal P.A., et al. 1995. How do coastal upwelling systems operate as integrated physical, chemical and biological systems and influence the geological record? The role of physical processes in defining the spatial structures of biological and chemical variables. In: Summerhayes C.P., Emeis K.-C., Angel M.V., et al. (eds). Upwelling in the ocean: modern processes and ancient records. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Chichester, pp. 103-124.

Cros L., Estrada M. 2004. Picarola margalefii, gen. et sp. nov., a new planktonic coccolithophore from NW Mediterranean waters. In: Ros J.D., Packard T.T., Gili J.M., et al. (eds). Biological Oceanography at the turn of the Millenium. Sci. Mar. 68(Suppl. 1): 243-248.

Cros L. Estrada M. 2013. Holo-heterococcolithophore life cycles: ecological implications. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 492: 57-68.

Cros L. Fortu-o J.M., Estrada M. 2013. Elemental composition of coccoliths. Mg/Ca relationships. Sci. Mar. 77S1: 63-67.

Delgado O., Estrada M. 1994. CO2 system in a Mediterranean frontal zone. Sci. Mar. 58: 237-250.

Delgado M., Latasa M., Estrada M. 1992. Variability in the size-fractionated distribution of phytoplankton across the Catalan Front of the Northwestern Mediterranean. J. Plankton Res. 14: 753-771.

Estrada, M. 1972. Analyse en composantes principales de données de phytoplancton de la zone côtière du Sud de l'Ebre. Inv. Pesq. 36: 109-118.

Estrada M. 1974. Photosynthetic pigments and productivity in the upwelling region of NW Africa. Tethys 6: 247-260.

Estrada M. 1978. Mesoscale heterogeneities of the phytoplankton distribution in the Upwelling Region of NW Africa. In: Boje R., Tomczak M. (eds), Upwelling Ecosystems. Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 15-23.

Estrada M. 1979. Distribución de las reductasas de nitrato en la región de afloramiento del noroeste de Africa. Noviembre 1975. Resultados Expediciones Científicas B/O Cornide 8: 153-159.

Estrada M. 1991. Phytoplankton assemblages across a NW Mediterranean front: Changes from winter mixing to spring stratification. In: Ros J.D., Prat N. (eds), Homage to Ramon Margalef or Why there is such pleasure in studying nature. Oecologia Aquatica 10: 157-185.

Estrada M. 1999. Hidrodinàmica i fitoplàncton en el mar Català. Memorias de la Real Academia de Ciencias y Artes de Barcelona 961: 187-247.

Estrada M. 2004. In memoriam Ramon Margalef. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 276: 1.

Estrada M., Blasco D. 1979. Two phases of the phytoplankton community in the Baja California upwelling. Limnol. Oceanogr. 24: 1065-1080.

Estrada M., Blasco D. 1985. Phytoplankton assemblages in coastal upwelling areas. In: Bas C., Margalef M., Rubiés P. (eds). Simposio Internacional sobre áreas de afloramiento más importantes del Oeste Africano. Barcelona. C.S.I.C., pp. 379-402.

Estrada M., Berdalet E. 1997. Phytoplankton in a turbulent world. In: Marrasé C., Saiz E., Redondo J.M. (eds). Lectures on plankton and turbulence. Sci. Mar. 61(Suppl. 1): 125-140.

Estrada M., Delgado M. 1990. Summer phytoplankton distributions in the Weddell Sea. Polar Biol. 10: 441-449.

Estrada M., Margalef R. 1988. Supply of nutrients to the Mediterranean photic zone across a persistent front. Oceanol. Acta 1: 133-142.

Estrada M., Marrasé C. 1987. Phytoplankton biomass and productivity off the Namibian coast. S African J. Mar. Sci. 5: 347-356.

Estrada M., Wagensberg M. 1977. Spectral analysis of spatial series of oceanographic parameters (fluorescence, temperature, concentrations of nitrate + nitrite). J. Exp. Mar. Ecol. Biol. 30: 147-164.

Estrada M., Morán J.A.G. 1996. Determination of dissolved organic carbon release by phytoplankton in natural water samples. In: Baeyens J., Dehairs F., Goeyens L. (eds), Integrated marine system analysis. ENIMSA, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brusels, Belgium, pp. 58-67.

Estrada M., Alcaraz M., Marrasé C. 1987. Effects of turbulence on the composition of phytoplankton assemblages in marine microcosms. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 38: 267-281.

Estrada M., Marrasé C., M. 1988. Phytoplankton response to intermittent stirring and nutrient addition in marine microcosms. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 48: 225-234.

Estrada M., Martínez R., Mathot S. 1992. Respiratory electron transport activity in plankton of the Weddell and Scotia Seas during late spring- early summer: relationships with other biological parameters. Polar Biol. 12: 35-42.

Estrada M., Marrasé C., Latasa M., et al. 1993. Variability of deep chlorophyll maximum characteristics in the Northwestern Mediterranean. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 92: 289-300.

Estrada M., Varela R.A., Sala, J., et al. 1999. Spatio-temporal variability of the winter phytoplankton distribution across the Catalan and North Balearic fronts (NW Mediterranean). J. Plankton Res. 21: 1-20.

Estrada M., Berdalet E., Vila M., et al. 2003. Effects of pulsed nutrient enrichment on enclosed phytoplankton: ecophysiological and successional responses. Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 32: 61-71.

Estrada M., Solé J., Anglès S., et al. 2010. The role of resting cysts in Alexandrium minutum population dynamics. Deep-Sea Res. II 57: 308-321.

Estrada M., Delgado M., Blasco D., et al. 2016. Phytoplankton across tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. PLoS One 11(3): e0151699. PMid:26982180 PMCid:PMC4794153

Fraga F., Ríos A. F., Estrada M., et al. 1999. Effect of upwelling pulses on excess carbohydrate synthesis as deduced from nutrient, carbon dioxide and oxygen profiles. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 189: 65-75.

Gibbs S.J., Bown P.R., Ridgwell A., et al. 2016. Ocean warming, not acidification, controlled coccolithophore response during past greenhouse climate change. Geology 24: 59-62.

Granata T.C., Estrada M., Zika U., et al. 2004. Evidence for enhanced primary production resulting from relative vorticity induced upwelling in the Catalan Current. Sci. Mar. 68S1: 113-119.

Jewson D., Kuwata A., Cros L., et al. 2016. Morphological adaptations to small size in the marine diatom Minidiscus comicus. Sci. Mar. 80S1: 89-96.

Latasa M., Berdalet E., Estrada M. 1992. Variations in biochemical parameters of Heterocapsa sp. and Olisthodiscus luteus grown in 12:12 light:dark cycles. II. Changes in pigment composition. Hydrobiologia 238: 149-157.

Latasa M., Morán X.A.G., Scharek R., et al. 2005. Estimating the carbon flux through main phytoplankton groups in the northwestern Mediterranean. Limnol. Oceanogr. 50: 1447-1458.

Llebot C., Solé J., Delgado M., et al. 2011. Hydrographical forcing and phytoplankton variability in two semi-enclosed estuarine bays. J. Mar. Sys. 86: 69-86.

Margalef R. 1978. Life-forms of phytoplankton as survival alternatives in an unstable environment. Oceanol. Acta 1: 493–509.

Margalef R., Estrada M. 1981. On upwelling, eutrophic lakes, the primitive biosphere and biological membranes. In: Richards F.A. (ed.), Coastal Upwelling, American Geophysical Union, Washington, 522-529.

Margalef R., Estrada M., Blasco D. 1979. Functional morphology of organisms involved in red tides as adapted to decaying turbulence. In: Taylor D.L., Seliger H.H. (eds), Toxic dinoflagellate Blooms. North Holland, Elsevier, pp. 89-94.

Morán X.A.G., Estrada M. 2001. Short-term variability of photosynthetic parameters and particulate and dissolved primary production in the Alboran Sea (SW Mediterranean). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 212: 53-67.

Morán X.A.G., Gasol J.M., Arin L., et al. 1999. A comparison between glass fiber and membrane filters for the estimation of phytoplankton POC and DOC production. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 187: 31-41.

Morán X-A.G., Taupier-Letage I., Vázquez-Domínguez E., et al. 2001. Physical-biological coupling in the Algerian Basin (SW Mediterranean): Influence of mesoscale instabilities on the biomass and production of phytoplankton and bacterioplankton. Deep-Sea Res. I 48: 405-437.

Packard T., Blasco D., Estrada M. 2004. Modeling physiological processes in plankton on enzyme kinetic principles. Sci. Mar. 68S1: 49-56.

Quintero-Torres R., Aragón L., Torres M., et al. 2006. Strong far-field coherent scattering of ultraviolet radiation by holococcolithophores. Physical Review E. 74: 032901. PMid:17025685

Solé J., Estrada M., García-Ladona E. 2006a. Biological Control of Harmful Algal Blooms: A modelling study. J. Mar. Sys. 61: 165-179.

Solé J., García-Ladona E. Estrada M. 2006b. The role of selective predation in Harmful Algal Blooms. J. Mar. Sys. 62: 46-64.

Solé J., García-Ladona E., Ruardij P., et al. 2005. Modelling allelopathy among marine algae. Ecol. Model. 183: 373-384.

Young J.R., Davis S.A., Bown P.R., et al. 1999. Coccolith ultrastructure and biomineralisation. J. Struct. Biol. 126: 195-215. PMid:10441529

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