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Phytoplankton growth rates in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary (Belgium) estimated using a simple light-limited primary production model
Muylaert, K.; Tackx, M.; Vyverman, W. (2005). Phytoplankton growth rates in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary (Belgium) estimated using a simple light-limited primary production model. Hydrobiologia 540(1-3): 127-140.
Also appears in:
Meire, P.; Van Damme, S. (Ed.) (2005). Ecological structures and functions in the Scheldt Estuary: from past to future. Hydrobiologia, 540(1-3). Springer: Dordrecht. 1-278 pp., more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Aquatic communities > Plankton > Phytoplankton
    Biological production > Primary production
    Costs > Production cost
    Growth rate
    Organic compounds > Carbohydrates > Glycosides > Pigments > Photosynthetic pigments > Chlorophylls
    Water bodies > Coastal waters > Coastal landforms > Coastal inlets > Estuaries
    Belgium, Zeeschelde [Marine Regions]
    Marine/Coastal; Brackish water; Fresh water
Author keywords
    chlorophyll a; freshwater tidal estuary; phytoplankton; production; Freshwater tidal estuary; Chlorophyll-a; Freshwater tidal estuary; Chlorophyll-a

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    During the course of 1996, phytoplankton was monitored in the turbid, freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary. Using a simple light-limited primary production model, phytoplankton growth rates were estimated to evaluate whether phytoplankton could attain net positive growth rates and whether growth rates were high enough for a bloom to develop. Two phytoplankton blooms were observed in the freshwater tidal reaches. The first bloom occurred in March and was mainly situated in the most upstream reaches of the freshwater tidal zone, suggesting that it was imported from the tributary river Schelde. The second bloom occurred in July and August. This summer bloom was situated more downstream in the freshwater tidal reaches and appeared to have developed within the estuary. A comparison between phytoplankton growth rates estimated using a simple primary production model and flushing rate of the water indicated that no net increase in phytoplankton biomass was possible in March while phytoplankton could theoretically increase its biomass by 20% per day during summer. Chlorophyllaconcentrations at all times decreased strongly at salinities between 5–10 psu. This decline was ascribed to a combination of salinity stress and light limitation. Phytoplankton biomass and estimated annual net production were much higher in the freshwater tidal zone compared to the brackish reaches of the estuary (salinity > 10 psu) despite mixing depth to euphotic depth ratio's being similar. Possible reasons for this high production include high nutrient concentrations, low zooplankton grazing pressure and import of phytoplankton blooms from the tributary rivers.

  • Laboratory of Protistology and Aquatic Ecology (PAE). Ugent; De Vlaamse Waterweg NV: Belgium; (2020): OMES: Monitoring phytoplankton in the Zeeschelde., more

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