Succession of phytoplankton assemblages in relation to estuarine hydrodynamics in the Ría de Vigo: a box-model approach
Keywords:estuarine circulation, succession, box model, Gymnodinium catenatum, Chaetoceros spp., Thalassiosira spp., Ría de Vigo
Two phytoplankton succession events (September-October 1993 and March 1994) in the Ría de Vigo were studied in relation to their hydrodynamic context. By means of a circulation box model we calculated horizontal and vertical residual fluxes as well as budgets of phytoplankton associated with them. This allowed us to assess the importance of the two factors involved in the selection processes: one hydrodynamic (dependent upon physical dispersion) and one biogeochemical (involving all other processes such as growth, mortality and grazing). The first period was characterised by a downwelling event which produced a reversal of the estuarine circulation pattern (horizontal velocity = 4 km d-1 and downward velocities up to 9 m d-1). This provided suitable conditions for the blooming of Gymnodinium catenatum favoured by its capacity to swim, while the diatom community almost disappeared. The second period corresponded to an upwelling Æ relaxation sequence. During upwelling (horizontal velocity = 6 km d-1; upward velocities up to 12 m d-1), Thalassiosira spp. was dominant. It is suggested that the less energetic conditions associated with the relaxation event (horizontal velocity=1 km d-1; upward velocities < 1 m d-1) favoured the selection of Chatoceros spp. due to its lower sinking rate.
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