Nutrient dynamics and seasonal variation of phytoplankton assemblages in the coastal waters of southwest Bay of Bengal

M S Achary, S Panigrahi, K K Satpathy, G Sahu, A K Mohanty, M Selvanayagam, R C Panigrahy
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2014, 186 (9): 5681-95
In order to understand the phytoplankton community structure and its relationship with the environmental variables in the near shore waters of Kalpakkam, east coast of India, observations were carried out during 2008-2009. Phytoplankton population was comprised of 219 species, and the density was higher during the southwest monsoon (SWM) and inter-monsoon seasons than that of north east monsoon (NEM) season. The nutrient status on a temporal and spatial scale indicated the impact of point sources carrying anthropogenic runoff. Comparison of ambient nutrient ratios with the Redfield ratio (N/P/Si = 16:1:16) showed a clear temporal variation in the factors that regulate the phytoplankton growth. SWM and inter-monsoon season was evident to have an acute N-limitation of algal growth (~76%) whereas P-limitation was encountered during the NEM season (~75%). Interestingly, a sizable population of cyanobacteria (Trichodesmium erythraeum) were noticed during NEM season when there was an exponential increase in nitrogen concentration, probably due to nitrogen fixation. No significant impact of temperature on phytoplankton proliferation was observed in situ during the study period.

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