Short-term environmental variability and phytoplankton abundance in a shallow tidal estuary - I. Winter and summer

Journal Article

Fixed-point sampling of a shallow tidal estuary was performed hourly for 14 d in summer of 1982 and again in winter of 1983. This sampling regime was of statistically appropriate duration to allow characterization of the variability between periods of 2 to 96 h by spectral analysis of the time-series. The project (PULSE) took place in the Newport River Estuary, located behind the Outer Banks of North Carolina, USA. In all, twentyeight parameters were monitored, encompassing the meteorology, hydrology, water chemistry and phytoplankton-production physiology. Although the annual cycle was monitored, only the winter and summer seasons are compared here, i.e., the lowest water temperatures with the highest water temperatures. The physics, chemistry and biology of the estuary at the hourly scale were highly variable and non-random. The estuary is riverine in winter; growth-limiting nitrogen is supplied as nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH4+) by runoff from the drainage basin. In summer, the estuary is lagoonal; nitrogen is supplied as NH4+by biological regeneration. Chlorophyll a biomass varies primarily at the ∼4 d period in winter and at the diel period in summer. Although finely tuned to environmental variability, phytoplankton abundances were at equilibrium insofar as daily chlorophyll production was balanced by losses, i.e., grazing, export and deposition. Most important, high-frequency processes, here periods at the scale of cell-division times, can be very important in phytoplankton ecology. © 1987 Springer-Verlag.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Litaker, W; Duke, CS; Kenney, BE; Ramus, J

Published Date

  • 1987

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 96 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 115 - 121

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0025-3162

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/BF00394844