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The role of resting cysts in Alexandrium minutum population dynamics

AuthorsEstrada, Marta ; Solé, Jordi ; Garcés, Esther ; Anglès, Silvia
KeywordsAlexandrium minutum
Harmful algal blooms
Mediterranean Sea
Issue DateFeb-2010
CitationDeep Sea Research - Part II - Topical Studies in Oceanography 57(3-4): 308-321 (2010)
AbstractThe role of resting cysts on the development of Alexandrium minutum blooms in a typical Mediterranean semi-enclosed water body (Arenys de Mar Harbor, NW Mediterranean) was studied by means of matrix and dynamic population models. We used a series of scenarios, constrained when possible by experimentally measured parameters to test whether excystment and encystment fluxes and changes in the dormancy period had a major effect on bloom intensity and duration. The results of the simulations highlighted the importance of knowing not only the magnitude and variability of growth and life-cycle transition rates, but also those of loss rates (both in the water column and in the sediment) due to physical or biological factors. Given the maximum encystment rates determined for A. minutum in the study area (0.01 d−1), this process contributed to reduce the peak concentrations of vegetative cells but did not have a dominant effect on bloom termination. Excystment fluxes could contribute to enhance population densities of vegetative cells during times or low or negative net growth rate and during the initial phases of a bloom, but once exponential growth had started, additional excystment had negligible effect on bloom magnitude. However, even if cysts did not contribute to larger blooms, they could represent a safety mechanism for reintroduction of the species when the vegetative cell population went extinct due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Increasing the dormancy time exposed newly formed cysts to a longer period of losses in the sediment that reduced the concentration of excystment-ready sediment cysts and decreased excystment fluxes. More complex models will be needed to explore the implications of different life-cycle strategies in a wider natural ecological context
DescriptionSpecial issue Phytoplankton Life-Cycles and Their Impacts on the Ecology of Harmful Algal Bloom.-- 14 pages, 9 figures, 4 tables
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.09.007
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