Succession patterns of phytoplankton blooms: directionality and influence of algal cell size

C. Marrasé*, C. M. Duarte, D. Vaqué

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Using four replicate microcosms in the laboratory, we induced a phytoplankton bloom by enclosing a natural community sampled from Masnou Harbor (N.E. Spain) in November 1987, and examined the pattern of algal succession during the bloom. Good replicability of the temporal patterns of the community biomass and the abundance of most species demonstrated that succession was a directional, non-random process. The successional pathway observed (small flagellates » small centric diatoms » small flagellates) resembled that observed by other authors studying phytoplankton blooms. This pattern differed from previous models of algal succession in that dinoflagellates never comprised a substantial fraction of the community biomass, and in that algal cell size did not tend to increase along the successional sequence. Algal cell size, however, was an important determinant of phytoplankton community structure, since it constrained the density, but not the biomass, achievable by the different species. We suggest that there is not a single, general pattern of phytoplankton succession, but that distinction should be made, at least between seasonal and bloom patterns of phytoplankton succession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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