University Of Tasmania

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Phytoplankton blooms in the Huon Estuary, Tasmania: top-down or bottom-up control?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 22:46 authored by Thompson, PA, Bonham, PI, Kerrie SwadlingKerrie Swadling
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.


Publication title

Journal of Plankton Research










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

Oxford, UK

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Coastal or estuarine biodiversity

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