Chemotaxonomic investigation of phytoplankton in the shelf ecosystem of the KwaZulu-Natal Bight, South Africa
Phytoplankton community structure was elucidated during summer and winter in the KwaZulu-Natal Bight using pigment and CHEMTAX analyses. The surface pattern in January 2010 indicated that diatoms, haptophytes and prasinophytes tended to be the most prominent groups inshore and in the southern sector of the bight, whereas Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus were more dominant in the north and towards the offshore region. At the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM), diatoms were dominant in the inner bight and in the south, with prasinophytes being the prominent flagellates, but this changed to Prochlorococcus and pelagophytes being the important groups in the northern sector and outer part of the bight. A different pattern was observed at the surface in July 2010, where diatoms, haptophytes, prasinophytes and cryptophytes in varying proportions comprised most of the community in the inner half of the bight, whereas Synechococcus and haptophytes were the main groups in the outer sector. A similar pattern occurred at the DCM, except that Synechococcus was less prominent and pelagophytes were distributed across the bight in both the inshore and offshore zones. Observations and relationships between phytoplankton groups and environmental parameters indicated that the groups were most closely related to temperature, accounting for 24–64% of the deviance. The influence of nutrients on phytoplankton was less clear but nitrate and silicate seemed to account for some of the patchy distribution patterns.
Keywords: CHEMTAX, communities, generalised additive models, pigments