Phytoplankton on the western coasts of Baja California in two different seasons in 1998


  • David U. Hernández-Becerril Laboratorio de Diversidad y Ecología del Fitoplancton Marino, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
  • Ernesto Bravo-Sierra Laboratorio de Diversidad y Ecología del Fitoplancton Marino, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
  • José A. Aké-Castillo Laboratorio de Diversidad y Ecología del Fitoplancton Marino, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)



Baja California, coccolithophorids, diatoms, El Niño, phytoplankton


Phytoplankton was studied in two different seasons of 1998 (March-April and December), during two cruises along the western coasts of Baja California, in three zones. Two different protocols for obtaining and studying phytoplankton were followed. In the March-April season, phytoplankton had relatively low species richness and was dominated in cell density (up to 93%) by coccolithophorids (mainly Emiliania huxleyi), together with nanoplanktonic centric and pennate diatoms, with abundances ranging from 5.4 103 to 1.2 105 cells L-1. In December, phytoplankton had higher species richness and was represented by larger, chain-forming diatom species, such as Pseudonitzschia delicatissima and P. pungens, which were widespread and numerically significant. There was a relative scarcity of coccolithophorids and thecate dinoflagellates, and densities were between 7 102 and 1.4 106 cells L-1. Hydrographic and oceanographic conditions in March-April were influenced by the occurrence of El Niño and the phytoplankton structure was found to be modified accordingly, with nanoplanktonic coccolithophorids and diatoms being significant contributors to the total abundance. In contrast, post-upwelling conditions might have favoured relatively high densities of Pseudonitzschia and other diatoms in December, 1998. Coccolithophorids have not been previously regarded as important contributors to the phytoplankton abundances in Baja California.


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How to Cite

Hernández-Becerril DU, Bravo-Sierra E, Aké-Castillo JA. Phytoplankton on the western coasts of Baja California in two different seasons in 1998. scimar [Internet]. 2007Dec.31 [cited 2021Jan.22];71(4):735-43. Available from: