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Annual phytoplankton cycle in a meromictic anoxic basin of a Rhode Island (USA) estuarine river

  • Theodore J. Smayda
  • Boyce Thorne-Miller
  • Carmelo TomasEmail author
Primary Research Paper

Abstract

Estuarine Pettaquamscutt River is a unique habitat 10 km in length with physical and biogeochemical characteristics analogous to a miniature fjord. Its meromictic upper basins are characterized by a permanent oxic–anoxic vertical gradient in which a well-oxygenated upper layer overlies a deeper, anoxic reservoir, with persistent blooms of phototrophic anoxygenic bacteria (Chromatium, Chlorobium) at the oxic–anoxic transition layer. A diverse assemblage of nanoplanktonic, centric diatoms (Cyclotella caspia, Thalassiosira pseudonana, cf. Cyclotella cryptica) dominated the seasonal phytoplankton cycle in the aerobic layer, similar to comparable meromictic habitats elsewhere. This assemblage of nano-centric diatoms appears to be trait-separated from other species clusters and is potentially useful as a functional group flora with ecophysiology diagnostic of marine estuarine rivers and meromictic habitat niche structure. The most conspicuous phytoplankton feature, however, was the year-round occurrence of the photoautotrophic euglenid Euglenaformis (Euglena) proxima, restricted in its upper water column distribution to the O2–H2S boundary layer where it formed a consortium with the photosynthetic green and purple sulfur bacteria community. The association of E. proxima with meromixis, H2S, and phototrophic anoxygenic bacteria is similar to that reported previously in a brackish Norwegian oyster poll and a brackish loch in Scotland.

Keywords

Meromixis H2Photosynthetic bacteria Phytoplankton Nano-diatoms Euglenaformis proxima H2S tolerant micro-alga consortia 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was aided by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program funded by EPA Grant No. R83-2443. The STAR program is managed by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance (NCERQA). STAR research supports the Agency’s mission to safe guard human health and the environment. We thank Dr. Paul Hargraves for his assistance in identifying the nano-centric diatoms.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.DickersonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Marine ScienceUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

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