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Preponderance of a few diatom species among the highly diverse microphytoplankton assemblages in the Bay of Bengal
Paul, J.T.; Ramaiah, N.; Gauns, M.; Fernandes, V. (2007). Preponderance of a few diatom species among the highly diverse microphytoplankton assemblages in the Bay of Bengal. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(1): 63-75.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Paul, J.T.
  • Ramaiah, N.
  • Gauns, M.
  • Fernandes, V.

    The microphytoplankton assemblages were studied from water samples collected at eight discrete depths in the top 120 m at five central (open ocean) and four western (shelf/slope region) locations in the Bay of Bengal. The Bay is a low-productive warm pool regime with poor inorganic nutrient inputs to its intensely stratified surface layer despite the very large riverine influx. In addition, the prolonged cloud cover has an adverse effect on the top 25–40 m, on primary production, chlorophyll concentration and phytoplankton assemblages. Microphytoplankton were the most abundant in the northern area of the Bay. A total of 153 phytoplankton species were identified during this study. The most abundant species (at least 1,800 individual cells belonging to a given species or =2% of the total counts of identified specimens) during this study were: Thalassiothrix longissima, Thalassiothrix fauenfeldii, Rhizosolenia styliformis, Nitzschia angularis, Thalassionema nitzschioides, Coscinodiscus radiatus, Chaetoceros eibenii, Skeletonema costatum, Coscinodiscus concinnus and Chaetoceros coarctatus. Similarly, there were 20 moderately abundant (=0.5 but <2%) species. Thirty-three of the least abundant species (<0.5%) occurred at one station. Diatom species, T. fauenfeldii and T. longissima were ubiquitous in the study area. The exclusive occurrence of S. costatum in the northernmost stations suggests that it proliferates only in the low-salinity regions with adequate silica from the land inputs. Abundance of pennate diatoms was higher in the open Bay compared to that of centric diatoms in the more productive northern locations and the western Bay. There appears to be a basic difference between near shore flora and offshore flora. This first analysis of phytoplankton assemblages from the offshore Bay suggests that while there is predominance of only a few species, the Bay harbors very diverse diatom communities that seem to be syntrophic, non-competitive and co-habiting in the generally low nutrient, stratified surface waters.

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