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Factors influencing spatial and temporal variation in phytoplankton productivity within the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Southwest Florida

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Date Issued:
2011
Abstract/Description:
Estuaries are unique ecosystems, comprising a complex trophic hierarchy mediated by physical processes within the system. Residing as the cornerstone of the estuarine food chain, phytoplankton are vital for trophic transfer of energy. Within the Caloosahatchee Estuary (CRE) of Southwest Florida, physical parameters shown to influence phytoplankton production, such as nutrient loading and salinity changes have been well documented; however, comprehensive studies utilizing high resolution, in situ measurements of phytoplankton abundance and photosynthetic efficiency, providing insight into physical/biological coupling throughout the entire estuary, is limited. This study outlines the spatial and temporal dynamics of phytoplankton biomass (chi-a) and effective quantum yield throughout the CRE. Phytoplankton biomass paralleled nutrient and light availability within the CRE, but only prior to wash-out of the chlorophyll/turbidity maxima. Biomass was higher in the wet season versus the dry season, gradationally decreased downstream, and was higher at the surface half of the water column versus the bottom half. Phytoplankton quantum yield followed an inverse relationship to biomass results, indicating that underlying physical water quality parameters influence photosynthetic efficiency more than nutrient availability in the CRE. It is hypothesized that freshwater discharge from S-79 is the main factor controlling phytoplankton production in the system via its influence on salinity regime, CDOM absorption, and residence time. Results support a previous hypothesis by Doering et al. (2006) that while chi-a is a useful indicator of eutrophication within the CRE, other water quality parameters influenced by freshwater discharge from S-79 may act to highlight or mask the effects of eutrophication on overall phytoplankton production. A holistic approach to watershed management pertaining to estuarine primary production is proposed, taking into account the combined underlying effects on salinity, CDOM, and residence time changes due to freshwater discharge to the system.
Title: Factors influencing spatial and temporal variation in phytoplankton productivity within the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Southwest Florida .
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Name(s): Andresen, Megan M., author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Thesis
Issuance: single unit
Date Issued: 2011
Physical Form: bound thesis
Extent: 103 pgs.
Language(s): English
eng
Abstract/Description: Estuaries are unique ecosystems, comprising a complex trophic hierarchy mediated by physical processes within the system. Residing as the cornerstone of the estuarine food chain, phytoplankton are vital for trophic transfer of energy. Within the Caloosahatchee Estuary (CRE) of Southwest Florida, physical parameters shown to influence phytoplankton production, such as nutrient loading and salinity changes have been well documented; however, comprehensive studies utilizing high resolution, in situ measurements of phytoplankton abundance and photosynthetic efficiency, providing insight into physical/biological coupling throughout the entire estuary, is limited. This study outlines the spatial and temporal dynamics of phytoplankton biomass (chi-a) and effective quantum yield throughout the CRE. Phytoplankton biomass paralleled nutrient and light availability within the CRE, but only prior to wash-out of the chlorophyll/turbidity maxima. Biomass was higher in the wet season versus the dry season, gradationally decreased downstream, and was higher at the surface half of the water column versus the bottom half. Phytoplankton quantum yield followed an inverse relationship to biomass results, indicating that underlying physical water quality parameters influence photosynthetic efficiency more than nutrient availability in the CRE. It is hypothesized that freshwater discharge from S-79 is the main factor controlling phytoplankton production in the system via its influence on salinity regime, CDOM absorption, and residence time. Results support a previous hypothesis by Doering et al. (2006) that while chi-a is a useful indicator of eutrophication within the CRE, other water quality parameters influenced by freshwater discharge from S-79 may act to highlight or mask the effects of eutrophication on overall phytoplankton production. A holistic approach to watershed management pertaining to estuarine primary production is proposed, taking into account the combined underlying effects on salinity, CDOM, and residence time changes due to freshwater discharge to the system.
Identifier: fgcu_ETD_0473 (IID)
Note(s): Degree Awarded: Master of Science
Department: College of Arts & Sciences
Subject(s): Estuarine ecology
Caloosa River (Fla.)
Phytoplankton.
Salinity.
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fgcu/fd/fgcu_ETD_0473
Use and Reproduction: Creator holds copyright.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FGCU