African Journal of Marine Science

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Phytoplankton absorption and pigment adaptation of a red tide in the Benguela ecosystem

R Barlow, T Lamont


Phytoplankton absorption and pigment characteristics of a red tide were investigated in coastal waters of the southern Benguela. Diagnostic indices indicated that dinoflagellates were the dominant phytoplankton group, with diatoms and small flagellates being of secondary importance. Very high biomass was observed close to the coast where chlorophyll a concentrations of up to 117 mg m–3 were measured. Both measured (aph) and reconstructed pigment absorption (apig) displayed an increasing trend with chlorophyll a, while the package effect index (Qa*) decreased, indicating increased packaging with an increase in biomass. Proportioning of the total pigment absorption between 400 and 700 nm revealed that chlorophyll a accounted for 39–65% of the absorption, while photosynthetic carotenoids (15–30%) and chlorophyll cs (15–30%) were also prominent in absorbing light for photosynthesis.

Keywords: absorption, phytoplankton, pigments, red tide

African Journal of Marine Science 2012, 34(2): 241–248
AJOL African Journals Online