Phytoplankton blooms in the Huon Estuary, Tasmania: top-down or bottom-up control?
Thompson, PA and Bonham, PI and Swadling, KM, Phytoplankton blooms in the Huon Estuary, Tasmania: top-down or bottom-up control?, Journal of Plankton Research, 30, (7) pp. 735-753. ISSN 0142-7873 (2008) [Refereed Article]
The roles of "top-down" and "bottom-up" factors were investigated in terms of their influence on the diatom and dinoflagellate abundances in the microtidal, salt wedge Huon Estuary, Tasmania, Australia. Long-term (1996-2005) changes in Chl a, the peridinin:Chl a ratio and the abundance of autotrophic dinoflagellates were observed to coincide with the warming of regional surface waters. There were significant seasonal differences in pigment-specific net growth rates for Chl a, peridinin and fucoxanthin. Diatoms dominated the spring bloom when species such as Skeletonema costatum had the highest net growth rates and fucoxanthin-specific gross growth rates were ∼0.9 day-1. During late summer, the peridinin-specific grazing mortality was significantly less than the fucoxanthin-specific grazing mortality and dinoflagellates increased their dominance of the phytoplankton community. This late summer relaxation of grazing pressure on dinoflagellates was associated with a decline in the overall abundance of microheterotroph (MH) grazers and a peak in the abundance, biomass and estimated grazing rates of mesozooplankton. We suggest the composition of the autumn phytoplankton community was dependent upon a trophic cascade where mesozooplankton, such as Noctiluca scintillans, preyed upon MHs and reduced their grazing upon some species of dinoflagellates.