AB 21:191-204 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00588

Impact of atypical ammonium concentrations on phytoplankton abundance and composition in fresh versus estuarine waters

Mary Lou Esparza1,*, Ann E. Farrell1, Douglas J. Craig1, Curt Swanson1, Bhupinder S. Dhaliwal1, Gry Mine Berg2

1Central Contra Costa Sanitation District, 5019 Imhoff Place, Contra Costa, CA 94553, USA
2Applied Marine Sciences, 911 Center St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The impact of atypically high ammonium (NH4+) concentrations delivered via treated wastewater effluent on phytoplankton community composition was investigated in a tidal slough connected with Suisun Bay in the northern part of San Francisco Bay. Input of effluent to a downstream location resulted in NH4+ concentrations of (mean ± SD) 1021 ± 380 µmol l-1, compared with 2.9 ± 1 µmol l-1 at a site further upstream, and 4.8 ± 1 µmol l-1 in Suisun Bay. Comparison of the diatom community at the downstream site in Pacheco Slough with that in Suisun Bay revealed a substantial overlap in species, including Cyclotella scaldensis, which dominated diatom species composition in both locations. The ratio of diatoms:other phytoplankton biomass (µmol3:µmol3) suggested that diatoms contributed a greater proportion of total phytoplankton community biomass at the downstream location (48.6 ± 87) versus in Suisun Bay (9.5 ± 1) or upstream (9.5 ± 8), and that diatoms can readily grow in the presence of NH4+ concentrations varying from 2 to 1350 µmol l-1. In the present investigation, species composition of the seeding population was found to be a more important predictor of final phytoplankton community composition than nutrient concentrations or ratios.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Ammonium · N:P ratio · NH4+:NO3- ratio · Diatoms · Chlorophytes · San Francisco Estuary · Suisun Bay


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Cite this article as: Esparza ML, Farrell AE, Craig DJ, Swanson C, Dhaliwal BS, Berg GM (2014) Impact of atypical ammonium concentrations on phytoplankton abundance and composition in fresh versus estuarine waters. Aquat Biol 21:191-204. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00588

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