Phytoplankton production in the Delaware Estuary (USA) was measured over several seasonal cycles (1980-1985). Seasonal variability in daily area1 production (JP; g C m-2 d-l) was dlrectly related to chlorophyll concentrations in the upper estuary, ranging from a maximum of 1.1 g C m-' d-' In summer to a minlmum of d-l) dunng summer in the presence of low phytoplankton biomass (2 to 10 kg Chl I-'), and in mid-estuary [2.6 g C d-l) during the spring diatom bloom (50 to 60 yg Chll-l). Desplte the occurrence of maximum nutnent concentrations in the freshwater region, highest JP and 90 % of the annual production occurred in the lower estuary, down-stream from the turbidity maximum. The presence of the turbidity maximum immediately downstream from major anthropogenic nutrient sources restricts phytoplankton growth, and limits biomass accumulation below nuisance levels. Annual production for the 1981-1985 period averaged 307 g Cm-2 and displayed marked inter-annual variability. Llght availability is the predominant regulator of production in the estuary. Although growth was light-limited, neither chlorophyll specific produchon nor the light intensity at which photosynthesis saturates was related to the mean light intensity in the mixed surface-layer. These results suggest that photoadaptive response times are slower than the vertical mlxing rate and that photoadaptation is of mlnor significance to overall production in the system.


School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering

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Marine Ecology - Progress Series



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