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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 516:103-126 (2014)  -  DOI:

Seasonal variation in the phytoplankton community of a continental-shelf sea: the East China Sea

Shujin Guo1,2, Yuanyuan Feng1,2, Lei Wang1,2, Minhan Dai3, Zhiliang Liu4, Yan Bai5, Jun Sun1,2,*

1College of Marine Science and Engineering, Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Tianjin 300457, PR China
2Tianjin Key Laboratory of Marine Resources and Chemistry, Tianjin 300 457, PR China
3State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, PR China
4Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Science, Qingdao 266071, PR China
5State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Hangzhou 310012, PR China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: To better understand seasonal variation in phytoplankton community structure in the East China Sea (ECS), 4 research cruises were carried out between August 2009 and June 2011 over the continental shelf. Phytoplankton community structure and ambient seawater physico-chemical parameters were examined. The phytoplankton community in the ECS was mainly composed of diatoms and dinoflagellates, with 242 taxa in 70 genera of diatoms and 104 taxa in 26 genera of dinoflagellates. Several species of Chlorophyta, Chrysophyta, and Cyanophyta were also observed. Chain-forming diatoms were the most dominant phytoplankton group throughout the year, except in spring when dinoflagellates dominated in coastal waters. Monsoon-induced turbulence played a significant role in regulating the dominance of dinoflagellates among seasons, with calm water favoring the growth of dinoflagellates and turbulent water inhibiting them. Phytoplankton abundance was always higher in coastal than offshore waters, mainly determined by nutrient availability. A Prorocentrum dentatum bloom and a Chaetoceros debilis bloom were observed in the Yangtze River estuary in spring 2011 and fall 2010, respectively. The blooms differed greatly in community diversity and cell abundance distribution, potentially affecting organic carbon export. In general, 3 different hydrographic water systems (coastal water, shelf mixed water, and Kuroshio water) were identified from a temperature-salinity plot of the ECS, and phytoplankton abundance showed spatially and temporally different distribution patterns in these 3 water systems. The nutrient N:P ratio, but not the Si:N ratio, played a significant role in regulating the phytoplankton community structure and the formation of the spring coastal dinoflagellate bloom in the ECS.

KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Community structure · Seasonal variation · Controlling factors · East China Sea · Yangtze River

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Cite this article as: Guo S, Feng Y, Wang L, Dai M, Liu Z, Bai Y, Sun J (2014) Seasonal variation in the phytoplankton community of a continental-shelf sea: the East China Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 516:103-126.

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