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Coastal diatom-environment relationships from the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kaarina Weckstrom, Emeritus Professor Steve Juggins


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Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea has become a serious concern in recent decades. To provide a potential means for quality assessments of coastal waters in this area, we collected a data set of 49 embayments in the Gulf of Finland, and explored the relationship between surface sediment diatom assemblages and 15 environmental variables, with special emphasis on nutrients. Total dissolved nitrogen, total phosphorus, depth, and salinity all accounted for significant and independent fractions of variation in the diatom data and explained 34% of the total variation. There were clear changes in diatom assemblage structures along the nutrient gradients. Although these changes were gradual, we could identify a number of taxa that were more abundant in a particular nutrient environment. These taxa could be used as potential indicators of the quality of coastal waters in the Baltic Sea. Diatom assemblages that were least affected by nutrient enrichment included a variety of benthic species and a relatively high species richness. Small planktonic taxa such as Cyclotella atomus Hustedt, Cyclotella meneghiniana Kützing and Thalassiosira pseudonana Hasle and Heimdal were good indicators of highly elevated nutrient concentrations (>600 lg·L-1 total dissolved nitrogen and 60 lg·L -1 total phosphorus) together with low species richness. The first appearance of these small planktonic taxa in regular monitoring could be used as an early warning sign for deteriorating water quality. Diatoms could be applied to water quality classification and monitoring purposes in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea area using techniques such as weighted-averaging regression and calibration. © 2005 Phycological Society of America.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Weckström K, Juggins S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Phycology

Year: 2006

Volume: 42

Issue: 1

Pages: 21-35

Print publication date: 01/02/2006

ISSN (print): 0022-3646

ISSN (electronic): 1529-8817


DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2006.00166.x


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