MEPS 445:219-234 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09484

Combined effects of increased UV-B and temperature on the pigment-determined marine phytoplankton community of the St. Lawrence Estuary

M. Lionard1,2,*, S. Roy1, M. Tremblay-Létourneau1, G. A. Ferreyra1

1Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski (ISMER), Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
2Present address: Département de Biologie, Pavillon Alexandre-Vachon, Université Laval, Québec, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada

ABSTRACT: The combined effects of increased UV-B and temperature on natural marine phytoplankton from the St. Lawrence Estuary (Canada) were examined in an 8 d mesocosm experiment carried out in Rimouski (Québec, Canada) in August 2008. We tested the hypothesis that increased temperature (+3°C) will offset algal growth suppression by UV-B (78% UV-B increase) using duplicate mesocosm experiments containing natural phytoplankton assemblages. The response of the entire phytoplankton community, in terms of HPLC pigment-based phytoplankton biomass, community composition (CHEMTAX), xanthophyll cycles photoprotection and quantum yield of photosystem II (the ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence: Fv/Fm), showed a significant influence of temperature (negative on small phytoplanktonic cells, <5 µm, and positive on larger diatoms) but only after the peak of the diatom bloom, when nutrients became limited. Interactions between temperature and UV-B treatments were significant only for small cells during post-bloom; UV-B induced an increase in phytoplankton biomass at the normal temperature but had no effect at warmer temperatures. Enhancing UV-B delayed the bloom slightly under the normal temperature and spread it over a longer period of time, with no sign of major cellular damage. Our results do not support the tested hypothesis, and they suggest that temperature plays a greater role than UV-B radiation in structuring phytoplankton communities, possibly favouring diatoms rather than small cells in a warmer climate scenario. Other effects such as grazing or coastal eutrophication should be considered in future studies.


KEY WORDS: Mesocosm experiment · Ultraviolet-B radiation · Temperature · Phytoplankton · Global warming


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Cite this article as: Lionard M, Roy S, Tremblay-Létourneau M, Ferreyra GA (2012) Combined effects of increased UV-B and temperature on the pigment-determined marine phytoplankton community of the St. Lawrence Estuary. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 445:219-234

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