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Consortial brown tide − picocyanobacteria blooms in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

February 15, 2018

A brown tide bloom of Aureoumbra lagunensis developed in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba during a period of drought in 2013 that followed heavy winds and rainfall from Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Based on satellite images and water turbidity measurements, the bloom appeared to initiate in January 2013. The causative species (A. lagunensis) was confirmed by microscopic observation, and pigment and genetic analyses of bloom samples collected on May 28 of that year. During that time, A. lagunensis reached concentrations of 900,000 cells ml−1 (28 ppm by biovolume) in the middle portion of the Bay. Samples could not be collected from the northern (Cuban) half of the Bay because of political considerations. Subsequent sampling of the southern half of the Bay in November 2013, April 2014, and October 2014 showed persistent lower concentrations of A. lagunensis, with dominance shifting to the cyanobacterium Synechococcus (up to 33 ppm in April), an algal group that comprised a minor bloom component on May 28. Thus, unlike the brown tide bloom in Laguna Madre, which lasted 8 years, the bloom in Guantánamo Bay was short-lived, much like recent blooms in the Indian River, Florida. Although hypersaline conditions have been linked to brown tide development in the lagoons of Texas and Florida, observed euhaline conditions in Guantánamo Bay (salinity 35–36) indicate that strong hypersalinity is not a requirement for A. lagunensis bloom formation. Microzooplankton biomass dominated by ciliates was high during the observed peak of the brown tide, and ciliate abundance was high compared to other systems not impacted by brown tide. Preferential grazing by zooplankton on non-brown tide species, as shown in A. lagunensis blooms in Texas and Florida, may have been a factor in the development of the Cuban brown tide bloom. However, subsequent selection of microzooplankton capable of utilizing A. lagunensis as a primary food source may have contributed to the short-lived duration of the brown tide bloom in Guantánamo Bay.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Consortial brown tide − picocyanobacteria blooms in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
DOI 10.1016/j.hal.2018.01.003
Authors Nathan S Hall, R. Wayne Litaker, W. Judson Kenworthy, Mark W. Vandersea, William G. Sunda, James P. Reid, Daniel H. Slone, Susan M. Butler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Harmful Algae
Index ID 70195431
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center