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«OVERVIEW OF COASTAL PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS AND THEIR POTENTIAL USE IN SWEDISH WATERS Helena Höglander, Bengt Karlson, Marie Johansen, Jakob Walve, ...»

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OVERVIEW OF COASTAL

PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS

AND THEIR POTENTIAL USE IN

SWEDISH WATERS

Helena Höglander, Bengt Karlson, Marie Johansen, Jakob Walve,

and Agneta Andersson

WATERS Report no. 2013:5

WATERS Report no. 2013:5

Deliverable 3.3-1

Overview of coastal phytoplankton

indicators and their potential use in Swedish waters Helena Höglander, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Bengt Karlson, SMHI, Oceanographic Unit Marie Johansen, SMHI, Oceanographic Unit Jakob Walve, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Agneta Andersson, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University

WATERS partners:

WATERS: Waterbody Assessment Tools for Ecological Reference conditions and status in Sweden WATERS Report no. 2013:5. Deliverable 3.3-1 Title: Overview of coastal phytoplankton indicators and their potential use in Swedish waters Cover photos: Mesodinium rubrum, Ceratium tripos, Nodularia spumigena, Cyclotella choctawhatcheeana, Teleaulax sp., and Dinophysis norvegica (by Helena Höglander) Publisher: Havsmiljöinstitutet/Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, P.O. Box 260, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden Published: August 2013 ISBN 978-91-980646-6-7

Please cite document as:

Höglander, H., Karlson B., Johansen, M., Walve, J., Andersson, A. Overview of coastal phytoplankton indicators and their potential use in Swedish waters. Deliverable 3.3-1, WATERS Report no. 2013:5. Havsmiljöinstitutet, Sweden.

http://www.waters.gu.se/rapporter WATERS is a five-year research programme that started in spring 2011. The programme’s objective is to develop and improve the assessment criteria used to classify the status of Swedish coastal and inland waters in accordance with the European Commission (EC) Water Framework Directive (WFD). WATERS research focuses on the biological quality elements used in WFD water quality assessments: i.e., phytoplankton, macrophytes, benthic invertebrates, and fish; in streams, benthic diatoms are also considered. The research programme will also refine the criteria used for integrated assessments of ecological water status.

This report is a deliverable of one of the scientific sub-projects of WATERS focusing on phytoplankton indicators for coastal and transitional waters. The report presents a stateof-the-science review of phytoplankton indicators used in Europe. The results will provide a basis for continued testing and evaluation of phytoplankton indicators in the WATERS programme, including field studies conducted jointly with other sub-projects.

WATERS is funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and coordinated by the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment. WATERS stands for Waterbody Assessment Tools for Ecological Reference conditions and status in Sweden. Programme details can be found at: http://www.waters.gu.se.

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS

Table of contents Summary

Svensk sammanfattning

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction

1.1 Factors influencing phytoplankton biomass and composition in Swedish coastal waters

1.2 Seasonal succession of phytoplankton in Swedish coastal waters

1.3 Phytoplankton as indicators of environmental change

1.4 Phytoplankton and anthropogenic pressures

1.5 Phytoplankton and the Water Framework Directive

1.6 Other relevant directives, conventions, and environmental objectives............... 23

1.7 Aim and objective of the report

2 Current Swedish assessment system for phytoplankton

2.1 Current Swedish assessment system in coastal and transitional waters........... 25

2.2 Current Swedish assessment system in lakes

2.3 Comments on current Swedish assessment of coastal phytoplankton: total biomass

2.4 Comments on missing parameters in Swedish assessment of coastal phytoplankton

3 Review of phytoplankton as indicators of ecological status in Europe

3.1 Existing European indicators for the WFD in coastal and transitional waters..... 32

3.2 Potential phytoplankton indicators developed in international contexts.............. 36

3.3 Other potential phytoplankton indicators

4 Monitoring of phytoplankton parameters

4.1 Traditional water sampling at fixed stations

4.2 Automated systems for water sampling and estimates of phytoplankton biomass

4.3 Satellite remote sensing for observing algal blooms

5 Potential coastal phytoplankton indicators for Sweden

5.1 What characterizes a good indicator?

5.2 Factors limiting choice of indicators

5.3 Potential phytoplankton indicators for Swedish coastal waters

5.4 Assessment period considerations

6 Conclusions: High-priority phytoplankton indicators for Swedish coastal waters...... 66 References

Annex

Appendix 1

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS





Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

Appendix 5

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS

Summary Phytoplankton are one of the Biological Quality Elements (BQEs) used in the EU Water Framework directive (WFD) to assess the ecological status of coastal and transitional waters. To be fully compliant with the WFD, the parameters biomass, taxonomic composition, abundance (or cover), frequency, and intensity of algal blooms should be included in the assessment system. Today only biomass, measured as chlorophyll a and biovolume of autotrophic and mixotrophic species, is used in the Swedish assessment criteria for coastal phytoplankton. Evaluating the existing indicators and developing indicators for the missing parameters are the main objectives of the phytoplankton project being conducted as part of the WATERS research programme.

This report provides an overview of phytoplankton indicators used by other European countries to implement the WFD as well as indicators tested in other contexts. The overview, together with a set of criteria, provides suggested potential indicators for Swedish coastal areas. Three criteria have been crucial for the choice of indicators. First, the indicators should respond to anthropogenic pressures, particularly eutrophication, and be ecologically relevant. Second, since the Swedish coast is very long and the salinity of the coastal areas varies from almost fresh water in the north to almost fully marine in the Skagerrak area, the species composition of the phytoplankton community will change accordingly. Phytoplankton indicators therefore need area-specific considerations. Third, the choice of indicators is also constrained by data availability, both existing and future data that can reasonably be expected to be delivered by monitoring programmes.

We find that the following indicators especially merit evaluation in the WATERS programme. These selected indicators will be evaluated based on analysis of existing data

and of data from gradient studies conducted in the WATERS project:

Total biomass Test the use of the 90th percentile of chlorophyll a measurements for the March– • October period (Kattegat and Skagerrak), used by other countries around the North-East Atlantic.

Evaluate the use of carbon content compared with biovolume (all areas, summer).

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS

Taxonomic composition Ratio of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (Nodularia spumigena, Aphanizomenon sp., and • Dolichospermum spp.) to total biomass (%) (Bothnian Bay, Bothnian Sea, and the Baltic Proper) (summer).

Ratio of the diatom genera Dactyliosolen and Cerataulina to total biomass (%) • (Kattegat and Skagerrak) (summer).

Ratio of potential eutrophication indicator species/groups (e.g., filamentous • cyanobacteria and green algae) or of potential oligotrophication indicators (e.g., mixotrophic chrysophyceans and prymnesiophyceans) to total biomass (Gulf of Bothnia and Baltic Proper).

Biomass of key indicator species/groups: for example, Nodularia spumigena, • Aphanizomenon sp., and Prymnesiales (Bothnian Bay, Bothnian Sea, and the Baltic Proper) and Pseudochattonella farcimen (spring) and Dinophysis spp. (summer) in the Kattegat and Skagerrak. Screening for the eutrophication response of other

species/groups will hopefully reveal other potential indicator species/groups:

preferably dominant species, toxic species, and species/groups that respond clearly to a stressor such as eutrophication.

Stations conducting high-frequency sampling in the national monitoring programme are representatively situated in the sea areas around Sweden (i.e., Gulf of Bothnia, Northern Baltic Proper, Kattegat, and Skagerrak) and data from these stations can be used to detect changes in the phytoplankton community that might not be captured by sampling only once per month or only in summer. For high-frequency stations, we suggest testing the

following additional indicators:

Taxonomic composition Seasonal succession of dominant groups (based on biovolume): Dinoflagellates, • diatoms, cyanobacteria, and Mesodinium rubrum for the Baltic Sea and diatoms, dinoflagellates and other dominant groups (e.g., Dictyochophytes and Prymnesiophyceans) for the Kattegat and Skagerrak.

Frequency of blooms Frequency of elevated biovolume, carbon, and chlorophyll a based on data for the • whole year.

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS

Svensk sammanfattning

Växtplankton är ett av flera biologiska kvalitetsfaktorer som används inom EU:s

ramdirektiv för vatten (WFD) för att beskriva den ekologiska statusen för ett kustvattenområde. Enligt vattendirektivet ska alla parametrarna biomassa, taxonomisk sammansättning, abundans, frekvens och intensiteten hos algblomningar ingå i bedömningsgrunderna för växtplankton. Idag ingår endast biomassa, mätt som klorofyll a och biovolym av autotrofa och mixotrofa arter, i de svenska bedömningsgrunderna för växtplankton i kustvatten. Utvärdering av de befintliga indikatorerna och utveckling av nya indikatorer för de parametrar där detta saknas är huvuduppgiften inom det växtplanktonprojekt som är del av forskningsprogrammet WATERS och där denna rapport utgör en delrapport.

I den här rapporten sammanfattas de indikatorer som andra europeiska länder använder för att implementera vattendirektivet samt indikatorer som har testats i andra sammanhang. Baserat på dessa indikatorer samt några urvalskriterier ges ett förslag på möjliga växtplanktonindikatorer för svenska kustvatten. Tre kriterier har varit extra viktiga vid valet av indikatorer. För det första ska indikatorer reagera på antropogena påverkansfaktorer, där eutrofiering är den viktigaste, samt vara ekologiskt relevanta. För det andra är Sveriges kust är mycket lång och salthalten varierar från nära sötvatten i norr till full marin salthalt i Skagerrak, vilket gör att även artsammansättningen varierar. De växtplanktonindikatorer som används måste därför anpassas till specifika områden. För det tredje begränsas valet av indikatorer av datatillgängligheten, både av befintliga data och möjliga framtida data som kan tänkas levereras från olika miljöövervakningsprogram.

Vi anser att följande indikatorer är särskilt intressanta för utvärdering inom WATERSprojektet. Dessa indikatorer kommer att utvärderas baserat på existerande data samt data från WATERS-projektets gradientstudier.

Total biomassa Testa 90:e percentilen för klorofyll a värden för perioden mars-oktober (för • Kattegatt och Skagerrak), en indikator som redan används av andra länder runt nordöstra Atlanten.

Utvärdera användandet av kolinnehåll jämfört med biovolym (för alla områden;

• sommar).

WATERS: OVERVIEW OF PHYTOPLANKTON INDICATORS FOR COASTAL WATERS

Taxonomisk sammansättning Proportionen av kvävefixerande cyanobakterier (Nodularia spumigena, • Aphanizomenon sp., och Dolichospermum spp.) av totala biomassan (%) (Bottniska viken och Egentliga Östersjön) (sommar).

Proportionen av kiselalgssläktena Dactyliosolen och Cerataulina av totala biomassan • (%) (Kattegatt och Skagerrrak) (sommar).

Proportionen av potentiella eutrofieringsindikator-arter/grupper (t.ex.

• filamentösa cyanobakterier, grönalger) eller proportionen av potentiella oligotroferingsindikatorer (t.ex. mixotrofa chrysofycéer och prymnesiofycéer) av totala biomassan (Bottniska viken).

Biomassan av viktiga indikatorarter/grupper: t.ex. Nodularia spumigena, • Aphanizomenon sp. och prymnesiales (Bottniska viken och Egentliga Östersjön) och Pseudochattonella farcimen (vår) och Dinophysis spp. (sommar) i Kattegatt och Skagerrak. Vid en screening av eutrofieringsrespons hos andra arter och grupper

kommer förhoppningsvis andra potentiella indikatorarter/grupper avslöjas:

företrädelsevis dominanta arter, toxiska arter och arter/grupper som påvisar tydlig effekt av påverkansfaktorer såsom eutrofiering.

Stationer med hög provtagningsfrekvens inom det nationella miljöövervakningsprogrammet finns representativt belägna i havsområdena runt Sveriges kust (Bottniska viken, norra egentliga Östersjön, Kattegatt och Skagerrak) och data från dessa stationer kan användas för att påvisa förändringar i växtplanktonsamhället som kanske inte kan upptäckas vid endast månadsvis provtagning eller då prover endast tas på sommaren. För dessa högfrekventa stationer föreslår vi att följande ytterligare indikatorer

utvärderas:

Taxonomisk sammansättning Säsongssuccession av dominerande grupper (baserat på biovolym): dinoflagellater, • kiselalger, cyanobakterier och Mesodinium rubrum för Bottniska viken och Egentliga Östersjön samt kiselalger, dinoflagellater, och andra dominerande grupper (t.ex.

prymnesiofycéer och dictyochophyta) för Kattegatt och Skagerrak.



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