Dinoflagellates is one dominant group in coastal marine phytoplankton communities and, on occasion, form blooms in estuaries and coastal ecosystems. While relationships between dinoflagellate bloom dynamics and nutrients are well-studied, information regarding bloom dissipation in estuaries is limited. We studied the dissipation of dinoflagellate Polykrikos geminatum
blooms in the Pearl River Estuary, South China Sea, during August of 2011 using ecological, molecular, and satellite remote sensing data. We found that the dinoflagellate bloom was associated with water temperatures of 29.2–31 °C, salinities ranging 16.4–20, and ambient water nutrient concentrations that were not limited. The abundance of the ciliate Euplotes rariseta
, which feeds on P. geminatum
cell debris and bacteria, functions as an indicator species of P. geminatum
bloom dissipation. In situ and satellite data indicate that bloom water masses were transferred from the central to inner estuary near Shenzhen Bay, driven by continuous, strong southerly winds; at which point in time, P. geminatum
blooms dissipated to a high-salinity area near the estuary mouth driven by northerly winds and freshwater discharge, whereupon the blooms rapidly vanished. A low tolerance to low or high salinities resulted in P. geminatum
bloom demise in the Pearl River Estuary. We propose that interactions among salinity, wind, and freshwater incursion result in P. geminatum
bloom dissipation in the Pearl River Estuary.
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