The dynamics of phytoplankton, bacteria and heterotropic flagellates at two banks near Magdeburg in the River Elbe (Germany)

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Abstract

The main objectives of this study were to describe the seasonal standing stock dynamics of phytoplankton, bacterioplankton and heterotrophic flagellates in the highly eutrophic River Elbe (Germany). and to compare the seasonal patterns observed with other streams. Emphasis was placed on examining and assessing abiotic and biotic controlling factors influencing the structure and dynamics of the riverine plankton. All the physico-chemical and biological parameters determined were within the range or somewhat higher (in the case of phytoplankton abundance and biomass) than reported for other large streams. The underwater light conditions resulting from atypically short phytoplankton growth periods of about 6 months per year and the low phytoplankton carbon to chl a ratio of 23 were identified as a major limiting factor for phytoplankton development in the River Elbe. The seasonal distribution pattern of bacterioplankton indicated probable tight trophodynamical coupling both with phytoplankton and with heterotrophic flagellates, whereas heterotrophic flagellates showed a more trophic link with bacterial densities. Although approximately constant DOC and DON levels throughout the year sustained bacterial growth rates, during the phytoplankton growing season an increase of bacterial standing stocks was observed. Although the left-bank sampling site of the Elbe is strongly influenced by the tributaries Mulde and Saale containing higher concentrations of chloride, nitrogen nutrients, heavy metals and organic pollutants, no clear differences were observed between the two sides of the river concerning the biological parameters measured. Possible reasons and the slightly higher phytoplankton abundance and diversity at the right bank are discussed.

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Karrasch, B., Mehrens, M., Rosenlöcher, Y., & Peters, K. (2001). The dynamics of phytoplankton, bacteria and heterotropic flagellates at two banks near Magdeburg in the River Elbe (Germany). Limnologica, 31(2), 93–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0075-9511(01)80002-5

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