FCE LTER Journal Articles


In Situ Response of Phytoplankton to Nutrient Additions in a Tropical Coastal Lagoon, (La Mancha, Veracruz, Mexico)


An experimental in situ microcosm study was conducted in the tropical lagoon La Mancha (Gulf of Mexico) to determine whether or not nutrient limitation occurs and to examine the direct effect of an inorganic nutrient pulse on the phytoplankton community structure. The phytoplankton community response to the addition of four treatments with different combinations of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and silica (Si) (+N-NH4 +, +P-PO4 −, +Si-SO3, and N:P16) showed that phytoplankton was N-limited as indicated by an increase in phytoplankton biomass (i.e., chlorophyll a) (range, 8–34 mg m−3) during the dry season in two consecutive years (2006 and 2007). Picophytoplankton abundance significantly increased in the +N treatment (145.46 103 cells L−1), while microphytoplankton reached a maximum abundance (68.38 103 cells L−1) in the N:P16 treatment. Phytoplankton composition changed from a community initially dominated by dinoflagellates (e.g., Prorocentrum spp.) to another dominated by diatoms (Thalassiosira and Nitzschia longissima) in the N:P16 treatment. The +N treatment significantly increased Synechococcus sp. growth rates (1.3 divisions per day) (picocyanobacteria). Biomarker pigments measured in the experimental microcosms confirmed observed changes in phytoplankton groups. Our results reveal that La Mancha lagoon is a N-limited coastal system during the dry season and provides evidence of the temporal species successional patterns and mechanisms regulating the phytoplankton community response to nutrient enrichment pulses in this already eutrophic coastal lagoon.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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