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Title: Tropical cyclones: what are their impacts on phytoplankton ecology?

Following the passage of a tropical cyclone (TC) the changes in temperature, salinity, nutrient concentration, water clarity, pigments and phytoplankton taxa were assessed at 42 stations from eight sites ranging from the open ocean, through the coastal zone and into estuaries. The impacts of the TC were estimated relative to the long-term average (LTA) conditions as well as before and after the TC. Over all sites the most consistent environmental impacts associated with TCs were an average 41% increase in turbidity, a 13% decline in salinity and a 2% decline in temperature relative to the LTA. In the open ocean, the nutrient concentrations, cyanobacteria and picoeukaryote abundances increased at depths between 100 and 150 m for up to 3 months following a TC. While at the riverine end of coastal estuaries, the predominate short-term response was a strong decline in salinity and phytoplankton suggesting these impacts were initially dominated by advection. The more intermediate coastal water-bodies generally experienced declines in salinity, significant reductions in water clarity, plus significant increases in nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton abundance. These intermediate waters typically developed dinoflagellate, diatom or cryptophyte blooms that elevated phytoplankton biomass for 1–3 months following a TC.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Plankton Research
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 180-204
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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