Dynamics of Alexandrium fundyense blooms and shellfish toxicity in the Nauset Marsh System of Cape Cod (Massachusetts, USA)
Crespo, Bibiana G.
Keafer, Bruce A.
Ralston, David K.
Anderson, Donald M.
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KeywordParalytic shellfish poisoning; Alexandrium fundyense; Dinoflagellate cysts; Bloom dynamics; Retention mechanism; Nauset Marsh System
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins are annually recurrent along the Massachusetts coastline (USA), which includes many small embayments and salt ponds. Among these is the Nauset Marsh System (NMS), which has a long history of PSP toxicity. Little is known, however, about the bloom dynamics of the causative organism Alexandrium fundyense within that economically and socially important system. The overall goal of this work was to characterize the distribution and dynamics of A. fundyense blooms within the NMS and adjacent coastal waters by documenting the distribution and abundance of resting cysts and vegetative cells. Cysts were found predominantly in three drowned kettle holes or salt ponds at the distal ends of the NMS - Salt Pond, Mill Pond, and Town Cove. The central region of the NMS had a much lower concentration of cysts. Two types of A. fundyense blooms were observed. One originated entirely within the estuary, seeded by cysts in the three seedbeds. These blooms developed independently of each other and of the A. fundyense population observed in adjacent coastal waters outside the NMS. The temporal development of the blooms was different in the three salt ponds, with initiation differing by as much as 30 days. These differences do not appear to reflect the initial cyst abundances in these locations, and may simply result from higher cell retention and higher nutrient concentrations in Mill Pond, the first site to bloom. Germination of cysts accounted for a small percentage of the peak cell densities in the ponds, so population size was influenced more by the factors affecting growth than by cyst abundance. Subsurface cell aggregation (surface avoidance) limited advection of the vegetative A. fundyense cells out of the salt ponds through the shallow inlet channels. Thus, the upper reaches of the NMS are at the greatest risk for PSP since the highest cyst abundances and cell concentrations were found there. After these localized blooms in the salt ponds peaked and declined, a second, late season bloom occurred within the central portions of the NMS. The timing of this second bloom relative to those within the salt ponds and the coastal circulation patterns at that time strongly suggest that those cells originated from a regional A. fundyense bloom in the Gulf of Maine, delivered to the central marsh from coastal waters outside the NMS through Nauset Inlet. These results will guide policy decisions about water quality as well as shellfish monitoring and utilization within the NMS and highlight the potential for “surgical” closures of shellfish during PSP events, leaving some areas open for harvesting while others are closed.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Harmful Algae 12 (2011): 26–38, doi:10.1016/j.hal.2011.08.009.
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