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Phyto plankton ecology in the southern benguela current southwestern africa 1. biochemical composition



Phyto plankton ecology in the southern benguela current southwestern africa 1. biochemical composition



Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 63(3): 209-228



Investigations on phytoplankton communities in a nearshore region off the Cape Peninsula revealed 3 types of upwelled water. During active upwelling temperatures were < 10.degree. C and concentrations of inorganic nutrients were high (Type 1). Maturing upwelled water was characterized by temperatures > 10.degree. C and nitrate concentrations varying between 2 and 15 .mu.g-at. NO3-N .cntdot. l-1 (Type 2), while aged upwelled water (Type 3) contained low concentrations of nitrate (< 2 .mu.g-at. NO3-N .cntdot. l-1) at temperatures > 10.degree. C. During the summer of 1978-1979 diatoms dominated the communities during Oct.-Jan. but microflagellates were dominant in Feb. and March. In both types of community, low concentrations of ATP, chlorophyll a, protein and carbohydrate were measured in Type 1 water with protein/carbohydrate ratios being > 1. In Type 2 water concentrations of chlorophyll a, ATP and protein were high and the protein/carbohydrate ratio was > 1. Concentrations of chlorophyll a and ATP remained high in Type 3 water but the protein/carbohydrate ratio decreased to < 1 due to an increase in the concentration of acid-soluble glucan. The communities were in an active phase of growth in Type 1 and Type 2 water when adequate nutrients were available, but were in a slow-growing phase in Type 3 water when nitrate concentrations were low. Correlation coefficients, simple linear regressions and stepwise multiple regressions between biochemical and environmental variables confirmed that nitrate was the nutrient most closely related to the biochemical composition of phytoplankton. Using linear regression equations of biochemical variables on glucan it was estimated that chlorophyll a existed in a ratio of .apprxeq. 1:1 between living phytoplankton and bacteria/detritus, while the percentage of ATP was high in the phytoplankton component of Type 1 water but low in that of Type 2 water. The percentage of protein in detritus was greater than in living phytoplankton, and the carbohydrate content of living phytoplankton increased as the upwelled water matured from Type 1 and Type 2 to Type 3.

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