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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 292:23-40 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps292023

Spatial distribution of modern dinoflagellate cysts in polluted estuarine sediments from Buzzards Bay (Massachusetts, USA) embayments

Vera Pospelova1,2,*, Gail L. Chmura1, Warren S. Boothman3, James S. Latimer3

1Department of Geography and Centre for Climate and Global Change Research, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K6, Canada
2School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Petch 168, PO Box 3055 STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3P6, Canada
3US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, NHEERL, Atlantic Ecology Division, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882, USA
*Present address: Victoria. Email:

ABSTRACT: Analysis of the spatial distribution of the dinoflagellate cyst assemblages in 19 surface sediment samples collected from 3 Buzzards Bay (Massachusetts, USA) embayments revealed the potential applicability of dinoflagellate cysts as biological indicators of environmental conditions in estuarine systems. Sites with the highest levels of toxic pollution and hypertrophic conditions are characterized by the lowest dinoflagellate cyst species-richness and concentrations. Among the abiotic factors influencing the distribution of dinoflagellate cysts, nutrients and toxic pollution are the major controls, as in these embayments salinity and temperature variability is low. Principal component analysis, based on the proportions of cyst taxa, indicated that cyst assemblages gradually change when moving away from the sources of nutrient pollution, sewage outfalls in particular.

KEY WORDS: Dinoflagellate cyst · Eutrophication · Heavy metals · Sewage · Wastewater treatment plant · PCBs · Apponagansett Bay · New Bedford Harbor

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