Phytoplankton community structure changes during autumn and spring in response to environmental variables in Methana, Saronikos Gulf, Greece

Phytoplankton community was investigated during two contrasting periods using offshore plankton samples in the volcanic area of Methana peninsula (Saronikos Gulf): the first at early autumn (warm period, September 2016) and the second one at early spring (cold period, March 2017). In order to investigate the phytoplankton community structure in the complex geo-biochemical conditions of the area, samples were collected from stations near the CO2 hydrothermal vents, at the hydrothermal sulfur and radioactive springs and at a fishery nearby Methana town. Three major phytoplankton groups, Bacillariophyceae, Dinophyceae, and Prymnesiophyceae, were studied, using inverted microscopy. In early autumn, Dinophyceae were dominant in the majority of the stations with cell concentrations of Prorocentrum spp. up to ~ 35.5 × 103 cells l−1. In early spring, the dominant class was Bacillariophyceae with dominant genus Nitzschia/Pseudo-nitzschia presenting cell concentrations up to ~ 33.9 × 103 cells l−1. Furthermore, Prymnesiophyceae appeared in both spring and autumn samples with small fluctuations. Total phytoplankton cell concentrations followed a seasonal trend, presenting slightly lower values in the hydrothermal-effected area in comparison with the broader Saronikos Gulf, confirming the prevalence of oligotrophic conditions. Seasonal variation was very strong, revealing an association with water temperature and nutrient content. Those environmental variables proved to have a strong effect that was reflected in the phytoplankton community structure.

Patoucheas P., Koukousioura O., Psarra S., Aligizaki k., Dimiza M. D., Skampa E., Michailidis I., Nomikou P. & Triantaphyllou M. V., in press. Phytoplankton community structure changes during autumn and spring in response to environmental variables in Methana, Saronikos Gulf, Greece. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Article.

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