Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1225–1236 | Cite as

Differences in photosynthetic pigment signatures between phytoneuston and phytoplankton communities in a coastal lagoon of Baja California

  • Martín A. Montes-HugoEmail author
  • Saúl Alvarez-Borrego
Research Article


In order to understand the relationships between the dynamics of phytoplankton populations in the surface microlayer (MIL) and in the water column below (SSW), this study used high-performance liquid chromatography-derived pigment markers in samples from a coastal lagoon of Baja California (Estero de Punta Banda, EPB) under summer (October 2003) and winter (December 2003) conditions. Photosynthetic pigment signatures of phytoplankton at the air–sea interface (phytoneuston) and subsurface measurements were related to bottom-up (temperature, salinity, nutrient concentrations) and top-down factors (zooplankton abundance). Slicks and scum layers were observed in the inner part of the lagoon and coincided with greater stratification of layers just below the sea surface and lower wind intensities. In general, spatial variability in pigment markers and ancillary data was very high and resulted in non-significant differences between MIL and subsurface samples when different regions of EPB or sampling dates were compared. However, different patterns were found between pigments and environmental factors of MIL and SSW samples when the relative numbers of stations with positive and negative differences (ΔXXMILXSSW) were computed. For each survey, pigment markers of phytoneuston and phytoplankton samples were not necessarily correlated. Further analysis revealed that those markers (19′-butanoyloxyfucoxanthin, prasinoxanthin, divinil-chlorophyll a) corresponded to picophytoplankton groups (haptophyte, prasinophyte, and prochlorophyte). On both dates, the MIL was enriched in 19′-hexanoyloxyfucoxanthin (a marker for a type 4 haptophyte) and fucoxanthin (marker for bacillariophytes, haptophytes, and crysophytes) and depleted in peridinin (marker for dinophytes). Different zooplankton grazers accumulated in the MIL (loricate tintinnids) and in SSW (copepod nauplii).


Phytoplankton Dinoflagellate Coastal Lagoon Fucoxanthin Peridinin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Dr. Sharon Herzka for logistic support during surveys and Dr. Ernesto Garcia-Mendoza for assistance with analysis of HPLC samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martín A. Montes-Hugo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Saúl Alvarez-Borrego
    • 2
  1. 1.Integrative Oceanographic DivisionScripps Institution of OceanographyLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.División de OceanologíaCICESEEnsenadaMexico

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