Spatial and temporal phytoplankton distribution in the Gulf of Cariaco, Sucre State, Venezuela, February 2014 - January 2015
Coastal phytoplankton is affected by natural and anthropic processes. To analyze the influence of some of these processes, the spatial and temporal distribution of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Cariaco, Sucre state, was evaluated. Samples (0-10 m) were collected with Niskin
bottles (5 L) in seven stations between February 2014 and January 2015. Transparency (m), salinity (UPS), temperature (° C), chlorophyll concentration a (mg m-3), and phytoplankton abundance (org mL-1) were measured. A nonparametric analysis of variance and multivariate methods (PCA, CCA, and nMDS) were used to analyze the results. The 0 - 10 m stratum was homogeneous with respect to all variables except temperature which ranged from 20.1 to 29.1 °C (March and October, respectively). Temporally, the variables were heterogeneous. Biomass fluctuated between undetectable (ND) and 17.5 mg m-3 (December and March). While microalgal abundance oscillated between 0.24 and 1.85 x 103 org mL-1 (April and
February). The community was dominated by diatoms, nanoflagellates, and coccolithophorids. The first two groups were associated with turbulent, nutrient-rich waters. The nMDS separated the community into the three periods previously described for the region. Likewise, the CCA detected that wind speed and temperature were the most influential variables on the phytoplankton community during upwelling and relaxation period, respectively. In the transition period, none of the variables studied affected the community. This is the first time that coccolithophores are reported as part of the dominant flora in the Gulf of Cariaco. This change suggests modifications in the oceanographic conditions of the study area.
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