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Nutrient-limitation induced diatom-dinoflagellate shift of spring phytoplankton community in an offshore shellfish farming area

Liang, Yi, Zhang, Guangtao, Wan, Aiyong, Zhao, Zengxia, Wang, Shiwei, Liu, Qun
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.141 pp. 1-8
Bacillariophyceae, Miozoa, carrying capacity, farm area, food availability, mariculture, phosphates, phytoplankton, primary productivity, scallops, seafoods, shellfish, silicates, silicon, spring, water pollution, Yellow Sea
As mariculture expands offshore in response to the increasing demand for seafood, a new set of ecological concerns arises. We report on presented phosphate and silicate deficiencies in spring in the Zhangzi Island area, northern Yellow Sea, used for farming scallops. Silicon limitation was observed at up to 77.3% of stations, with an average silicate concentration as low as 1.7 μM in March 2014. Average phosphate concentration decreased from 0.12 to 0.05 μM from March to May. Stoichiometric ratios and absolute concentrations indicate that 78%–90% of stations showed phosphate limitation. Correspondingly, the phytoplankton community shifted from predominately diatoms to dinoflagellates. The higher frequency of nutrient limitation in farmed areas, compared with unseeded areas and northern Yellow Sea in general, imply intensified bottom-up controls on scallop production. The “bottle-neck” effect of limited food availability in spring suggests that carrying capacity was originally overestimated, when calculated from annual primary production.