Inter-annual variability in phytoplankton summer blooms in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary (Belgium)
Lionard, Marie × Muylaert, Koenraad Hanoutti, Abdel Maris, Tom Tackx, Michlele Vyverman, Wim #
Academic press ltd elsevier science ltd
Estuarine coastal and shelf science vol:79 issue:4 pages:694-700
The inter-annual variability in phytoplankton summer blooms in the upper reaches of the Schelde estuary was investigated between 1996 and 2005 by monthly sampling at 10 stations. The large interannual variations of the chlorophyll a concentration in the freshwater tidal reaches were independent from variations in chlorophyll a in the tributary river Schelde. Summer mean chlorophyll a concentrations were significantly negatively correlated with flushing rate (Spearman correlation: r=-0.67, p = 0.05, n = 9) but not with temperature, irradiance and suspended particulate matter or dissolved silica (DSi) concentrations. During dry summers, low flushing rates permitted the development of dense phytoplankton populations in the upper part of the estuary, while during wet summers high flushing rates prevented the development of dense phytoplankton blooms. Flushing rate was also found to be important for the phytoplankton community composition. At low flushing rates, the community was dominated by diatoms that developed within the upper estuary. At high flushing rates, chlorophytes imported from the tributary river Schelde became more important in the phytoplankton community. The position of the chlorophyll a maximum shifted from the head of the estuary when flushing rates were low, to more downstream when flushing rates were high. Although DSi concentrations tended to be lower during years of high phytoplankton (mainly diatom) biomass, the relation with flushing rate was not significant. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.