Spetter, C.A.; Popovich, C.A.; Arias, A.; Asteasuain, R.O.; Freije, R.H., and Marcovecchio, J.E., 2015. Role of nutrients in the phytoplankton development during a winter diatom bloom in a eutrophic South American estuary (Bahía Blanca, Argentina).
The Bahía Blanca Estuary is considered highly eutrophic. Long-term studies have shown that the winter–early spring bloom can be considered the development of a diatom assemblage with Thalassiosira curviseriata as the dominant species. Since 2003, several changes have been observed in the annual pattern of nutrients and phytoplankton. To assess the availability of nutrients and their relationship with phytoplankton development, nutrient variability was studied during a winter bloom in 2003 (April 22–September 4). Nitrite, nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, silicates, chlorophyll-a, phytoplankton abundance, particulate organic matter, and physicochemical parameters were measured in surface water at Cuatreros Port. In the Sauce Chico River mouth, we determined the concentration of nutrients to estimate the input of this river. The results of this study were compared with those of a previous usual diatom bloom from 2002. In 2003, the bloom was dominated by the Cyclotella sp. with high chlorophyll-a concentrations (26.5–40.4 μg L−1). Thalassiosira curviseriata was present only at three sampling dates, reaching up to 19% of the total abundance. Mean values of dissolved oxygen, nitrate, oxygen saturation percentage, and salinity were significantly higher in 2003 than in 2002, while N:P ratios were significantly lower. Si was never limiting. A shift in the limiting nutrient between the years (N in 2003 and P in 2002) could have lead to a change in species dominance during the blooms. Results suggest that the nutrients levels in the coastal ecosystems at Cuatreros Port play an important role in the control of phytoplankton dynamics during the productive period and partially explain its interannual variability.