MEPS 594:51-63 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12559

Assessing phytoplankton community composition using combined pigment and particle size distribution analysis

Joan S. Font-Muñoz1,*, Antoni Jordi2,5, Sílvia Anglès1, Pere Ferriol3, Esther Garcés4, Gotzon Basterretxea1

1Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats, IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Miquel Marqués 21, 07190 Esporles, Illes Balears, Spain
2Davidson Laboratory, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA
3Universitat de les Illes Balears, Cra. de Valldemossa, km 7.5, 07122 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain
4Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 08003 Barcelona, Spain
5Present address: Jupiter Intelligence, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Changes in phytoplankton composition reveal relevant information about the response of aquatic systems to environmental drivers. Here, we propose the combined use of particle size measurements and pigment signatures to analyze the changes in the composition of phytoplankton communities at a coastal location. Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was applied to separate phytoplankton signals from non-algal components of particulate matter in concurrent measurements of particle size distribution and pigment concentrations (chlorophylls a, b and c). Using this method, we were able to identify phytoplankton community structure variations at size and functional levels associated with the water column during the spring to summer transition at a Mediterranean coastal site. Some taxa with characteristic size spectrum signatures such as Pseudo-nitzschia sp., which produced an intense (up to 5 x 105 cells l-1), but ephemeral bloom, could also be identified. The general patterns of phytoplankton succession obtained using this methodology were corroborated by light microscopy and flow cytometry identification. Phytoplankton biovolume comparisons between both methods were highly consistent (r = 0.75, p < 0.01). We consider that combined pigment and size structure analysis using CCA is a useful tool to determine reorganization patterns of phytoplankton via changes in species composition.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Size distribution · Pigments · Canonical correlation analysis · Chlorophyll


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Cite this article as: Font-Muñoz JS, Jordi A, Anglès S, Ferriol P, Garcés E, Basterretxea G (2018) Assessing phytoplankton community composition using combined pigment and particle size distribution analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 594:51-63. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12559

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