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Characterization of spring phytoplankton communities in the Río de La Plata maritime front using pigment signatures and cell microscopy
Carreto, J.I.; Montoya, N.G.; Benavides, H.R.; Guerrero, R.; Carignan, M.O. (2003). Characterization of spring phytoplankton communities in the Río de La Plata maritime front using pigment signatures and cell microscopy. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 143(5): 1013-1027.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Carreto, J.I.
  • Montoya, N.G.
  • Benavides, H.R.
  • Guerrero, R.
  • Carignan, M.O.

    The surface abundance and species composition of phytoplankton communities were studied in a section across the continental shelf between the Río de La Plata and the oceanic waters of the Subtropical Convergence, during late spring (November 1999). Algal communities were examined using light microscopy and HPLC-derived (high-performance liquid chromatography) pigment concentrations. The CHEMTAX program was used to estimate the chlorophyll a (chl a) biomass of different algal classes. The inclusion of the most abundant members of the chl c pigment family (chl c 1, chl c 2, chl c 3 and chl c 2 monogalactosyldiacylglyceride esters) in the pigment matrix improved the CHEMTAX interpretation of field data. Using this novel approach four haptophyte populations were distinguished across the studied section, even though they had qualitatively similar pigment signatures, although one subtype lacked 19'-hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin (Hex-Fuco). Five different phytoplankton assemblages, spatially segregated by the prevailing environmental conditions, were distinguished during the studied period. All of them showed a complex community structure, formed by a background of small-sized cells such as cyanobacteria, cryptophytes, haptophytes and prasinophyceans, on which diatom, cryptophyte or some haptophyte blooms were overlapped. In the estuarine assemblage, where maximum chl a concentrations where found, diatoms were always the dominant group (30–60% of total chl a), but cryptophytes (10–40%), prasinophyceans (2–20%) and dinoflagellates (2–12%) were also relevant. In the coastal assemblage diatoms were also the dominant group (35–45%), but haptophytes lacking Hex-Fuco were subdominant (20–35%). The continental shelf assemblage showed an almost exclusive dominance (90%) of haptophytes resembling the coccolithophorid E. huxleyi. Another haptophyte (Phaeocystis sp.) was dominant (75–85%) in the Malvinas Current assemblage. The Brazil Current assemblage was characterized by the codominance of cyanobacteria (45%) and haptophytes (35%). These results are discussed in relationship to the complex hydrographic features of the area.

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