MEPS - Vol. 425 - Feature article

In vivo fluorescence profiles over 4 days in the Neuse River Estuary showing phytoflagellate diel vertical migrations (red: high abundance; blue: low abundance), and photomicrographs of common phytoflagellates (from left to right: Karlodinium veneficum, Scrippsiella trochoidea, Pheopolykrikos hartmanii). Image: N.S. Hall and A.R. Joyner

Hall NS, Pearl HW

 

Vertical migration patterns of phytoflagellates in relation to light and nutrient availability in a shallow microtidal estuary

 

The influence of vertically separated light and nutrient resources on phytoplankton composition and productivity was studied in a shallow, stratified, microtidal estuary (Neuse River Estuary, NC, USA). The phytoplankton community was dominated by phytoflagellates. Many species performed diel vertical migration to access the well lit surface layer during the daytime and nutrient rich bottom waters at night. The ability to exploit vertical light and nutrient gradients through vertical migration is likely an important reason for flagellate dominance in this stratified, nitrogen-limited system. Inter- and intraspecific variation in migration patterns provided in situ evidence for vertical niche partitioning and adaptation to changes in growth conditions, which contribute to enhanced productivity within this eutrophic estuary.

 

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