Phytoplankton composition and biomass under oligotrophic conditions in the Guaymas Basin (Gulf of California)

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Eduardo Millán-Nuñez
Francisco Delgadillo-Hinojosa
Cristian Hakspiel-Segura
Eunise Vanessa Torres-Delgado
Armando Félix-Bermúdez
José Antonio Segovia-Zavala
Víctor Froylán Camacho-Ibar
Albino Munoz-Barbosa


In order to determine the structure and biomass of phytoplankton (picophytoplankton, nanodiatoms, and microdiatoms) under oligotrophic conditions, a study was carried out in the surface layer of the Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California, during the late summer of 2016. This study included the measurement of hydrographic, chemical, and biological variables in the surface layer of the study area. Our results showed a warm, strongly stratified, and nutrient-depleted water column associated with reduced phytoplankton biomass (<1 mg Chla·m–3). The average ratios of N:P (0.55 ± 1.34), N:Si (0.13 ± 0.18), and Fe:N (52.70 ± 29.70) indicate N-limiting conditions. The biomass contribution of phytoplankton groups fluctuated widely by depth level, with predominance of picophytoplankton (85.0 ± 2.7%) at the surface (5 m) and nano-microdiatoms (91.5 ± 5.9%) at the deepest level (35–40 m), adjacent to the thermocline. Diatoms dominated the integrated biomass between the surface and 50-m depth, with an average contribution ~6 times greater than that of picophytoplankton. Despite the ideal conditions for the proliferation of diazotrophs, the presence of Trichodesmium spp. and Richelia intracellularis was very irregular and in relatively low abundances (2,220 ± 1,575 cell·L–1). Our results are especially relevant as they suggest that, under N-limiting conditions, the paradigm of high biomass and large cell dominance in the Gulf of California may be challenged during the summer season.


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Millán-Nuñez, E., Delgadillo-Hinojosa, F., Hakspiel-Segura, C., Torres-Delgado, E. V., Félix-Bermúdez, A., Segovia-Zavala, J. A., … Munoz-Barbosa, A. (2023). Phytoplankton composition and biomass under oligotrophic conditions in the Guaymas Basin (Gulf of California). Ciencias Marinas, 49.
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