Xie Y.Y., Wang L., Liu X., Li X., Wang Y.Y. and Huang B.Q.. 2019. Phycological Research, 67: 152-163.
Microphytobenthos (MPB) and phytoplankton are important primary producers in the estuarial ecosystem, and their functions are critical to the ecosystem’s biodiversity and environmental safety. The aim of this study was to compare the response of MPB and phytoplankton to the nutrient loads in a eutrophic estuary, which has seldom been studied. We used high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and CHEMTAX software to examine the biomass and taxonomic composition of both MPB and phytoplankton at Da-yu Island (DYI) and Ji-yu Island (JYI) in the Jiulong River Estuary from July 2010 to March 2012. The results showed that MPB chlorophyll a was low in the summer and high in the winter at both DYI and JYI, indicating a unimodal pattern. However, the phytoplankton chlorophyll a showed a mirrored pattern. Diatoms were the dominant class in both benthic and pelagic environments. Although redundancy analysis indicated that the effects of different environmental factors could not be easily separated, it is likely that phosphate and temperature were the most important factors regulating the seasonal patterns of MPB and phytoplankton diatoms, respectively. MPB and phytoplankton cyanobacteria was co-limited by salinity and temperature. The high N/P ratio and low phosphate favored chlorophytes and cyanobacteria. Our study demonstrates the use of HPLC and CHEMTAX in an integrated survey of the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of MPB and phytoplankton in an estuarial ecosystem. The contrasting responses of MPB and phytoplankton to nutrient loads indicate the critical role of MPB in subtropical estuarial ecosystem function. The relationship between nutrients and MPB may indicate a significant contribution to carbon and nutrient cycling.
Figure 1. The changes of taxonomic composition during the study period, (a) microphytobenthos in DYI, (b) microphytobenthos in JYI, (c) phytoplankton in DYI,
and (d) phytoplankton in JYI. [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Figure 2. Conceptual diagrams of contrasting responses of MPB and phytoplankton in Jiulong River Estuary. [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]