Changing Phytoplankton Communities in Aquatic Environments

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Functionality of Aquatic Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 December 2023) | Viewed by 5335

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Centre for Marine and Environmental Research, The University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Interests: phytoplankton; estuaries; eutrophication; tidal freshwater zones; harmful algal blooms

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Phytoplankton are key players in aquatic ecosystems as the dominant primary producers, accounting for approximately 50% of the Earth’s primary productivity. Phytoplankton also have significant impacts on water quality and play vital roles in many ecosystem processes, such as biogeochemical processes, mediating cycling, sequestration, and exportation of inorganic and organic compounds. In addition, phytoplankton are excellent model systems that may be utilized to address fundamental ecological questions; furthermore, they are also widely used for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Overall, phytoplankton are a vital gauge of ecological condition and change, and they are effectively used to understand and predict the functioning and production of aquatic ecosystems and their responses to natural and anthropogenic-induced changes.

Phytoplankton communities are highly diverse in terms of composition and functional traits. Changes in phytoplankton communities affect the pathways and efficiency of energy transfer along the food web, thus impacting the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. Therefore, research on changes in phytoplankton communities across different aquatic ecosystems, driven by natural and anthropogenic stressors, is urgently needed.

For this Special Issue, we welcome research articles and reviews addressing the causes, effects, and consequences of changing phytoplankton communities in aquatic ecosystems. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Drivers of phytoplankton community structure;
  • Phytoplankton diversity in future scenarios;
  • Community stoichiometry;
  • Functional traits and functional shifts in phytoplankton communities;
  • Approaches to studying change in phytoplankton communities;
  • Modeling phytoplankton communities.

Dr. Rita B. Domingues
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • phytoplankton
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • environmental drivers
  • community ecology
  • functional traits
  • environmental change
  • diversity

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

35 pages, 2591 KiB  
Article
Patterns and Predictors of Phytoplankton Assemblage Structure in a Coastal Lagoon: Species-Specific Analysis Needed to Disentangle Anthropogenic Pressures from Ocean Processes
by Maria João Lima, Ana B. Barbosa, Cátia Correia, André Matos and Alexandra Cravo
Water 2023, 15(24), 4238; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15244238 - 10 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1319
Abstract
Phytoplankton are dominant primary producers and key indicators in aquatic ecosystems. Understanding the controlling factors on the structure of phytoplankton assemblages is fundamental, but particularly challenging at the land–ocean interface. To identify the patterns and predictors of phytoplankton assemblage structure in the Ria [...] Read more.
Phytoplankton are dominant primary producers and key indicators in aquatic ecosystems. Understanding the controlling factors on the structure of phytoplankton assemblages is fundamental, but particularly challenging at the land–ocean interface. To identify the patterns and predictors of phytoplankton assemblage structure in the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon (south Portugal), this study combined phytoplankton abundance along a transect between the discharge point of a wastewater treatment plant and a lagoon inlet, over two years, with physico-chemical, hydrographic, and meteo-oceanographic variables. Our study identified 147 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and planktonic diatoms (60–74%) and cryptophyceans (17–25%) dominated the phytoplankton in terms of abundance. Despite strong lagoon hydrodynamics, and the lack of spatial differences in the phytoplankton abundance and most diversity metrics, the multivariate analysis revealed differences in the assemblage structure between stations (p < 0.001) and seasons (p < 0.01). Indicator analysis identified cryptophyceans as lagoon generalists, and 11 station-specific specialist OTUs, including Kryptoperidinium foliaceum and Oscillatoriales (innermost stations) and potentially toxigenic species (Pseudo-nitzschia and Dinophysis; outer lagoon station, p < 0.05). Water temperature, pH, and nutrients emerged as the variables that best explained the changes in the phytoplankton assemblage structure (p < 0.001). Our findings provide insight into the relevance of local anthropogenic and natural forcings on the phytoplankton assemblage structure and can be used to support the management of RF and other coastal lagoons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Phytoplankton Communities in Aquatic Environments)
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12 pages, 1996 KiB  
Article
Freshwater Salinization Impacts the Interspecific Competition between Microcystis and Scenedesmus
by Tianheng Gao, Yinkang Li, Wenlei Xue, Yueqiang Pan and Xuexia Zhu
Water 2023, 15(7), 1331; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15071331 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1733
Abstract
Freshwater salinization is a growing environmental issue caused by various anthropic or natural factors that lead to changes in water chemistry and physical conditions, affecting the survival and diversity of phytoplankton. In this study, we tested the physiological, morphological and interspecific competition of [...] Read more.
Freshwater salinization is a growing environmental issue caused by various anthropic or natural factors that lead to changes in water chemistry and physical conditions, affecting the survival and diversity of phytoplankton. In this study, we tested the physiological, morphological and interspecific competition of the freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa and the green algae Scenedesmus obliquus to salinity stress. Results demonstrated that increasing salinity had a significant negative effect on the growth of M. aeruginosa and S. obliquus. M. aeruginosa showed a decline in growth rate with increasing salinity, while S. obliquus showed a lower growth rate under salinity stress but with no significant difference between the two salinity groups. In cocultures, S. obliquus outcompeted M. aeruginosa, and the displacement was accelerated with increasing salinity. The photosynthetic performance of both algae was affected by salinity, the presence of competitors, and the cultivation time. S. obliquus showed morphological variations under salinity stress and the presence of a competitor. The study suggests that salinity stress and competition can have a significant impact on the growth and performance of algae species. The findings of our study suggest that the salinization of freshwater can impact the interspecific interactions among phytoplankton, which play a crucial role in the functioning of freshwater ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Phytoplankton Communities in Aquatic Environments)
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12 pages, 1643 KiB  
Article
Duration, but Not Bottle Volume, Affects Phytoplankton Community Structure and Growth Rates in Microcosm Experiments
by Rita B. Domingues, Benjamin A. Mosley, Patrícia Nogueira, Inês B. Maia and Ana B. Barbosa
Water 2023, 15(2), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15020372 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1796
Abstract
It is generally assumed that the larger the bottle volume, the longer the duration of phytoplankton microcosm experiments. We hypothesize that volume and duration are independent, as volume does not regulate the extension of the exponential growth phase. We conducted two microcosm experiments [...] Read more.
It is generally assumed that the larger the bottle volume, the longer the duration of phytoplankton microcosm experiments. We hypothesize that volume and duration are independent, as volume does not regulate the extension of the exponential growth phase. We conducted two microcosm experiments using 1, 2, and 8 L bottles, inoculated with phytoplankton collected in the Ria Formosa lagoon (SE Portugal) and incubated for 1, 2, 4, and 8 days. Phytoplankton net growth rates were estimated using chlorophyll a concentration and cell abundance, determined with epifluorescence and inverted microscopy. Results show that the experimental duration significantly affected net growth rates, independently of volume, with decreasing net growth rates with time. Regarding volume, we found significant, but weak, differences in net growth rates, and significant two-way interactions only for the larger-sized cells. No significant differences in net growth rates across the different volumes were detected for the smaller, most abundant taxa and for the whole assemblage. We conclude that duration, not volume, is the main factor to consider in microcosm experiments, and it should allow the measurement of responses during the exponential growth phase, which can be detected through daily sampling throughout the duration of the experiment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Phytoplankton Communities in Aquatic Environments)
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