New study shows that nutritious phytoplankton high in essential fatty acids support secondary production in coastal-estuarine waters

Coastal-estuarine ecosystems are some of the most productive habitats and contribute largely to fish and aquaculture production. This high productivity is ascribed to high primary production and efficient carbon transfer to higher trophic levels. Our novel results reveal that high production of nutritious phytoplankton in the form of diatoms and dinoflagellates in coastal-estuarine ecosystems is an additional factor contributing to high secondary production. Cyanobacteria and chlorophytes with low nutritional value for consumers dominate at low-salinity regions and in offshore oligotrophic oceanic regions. By producing phytoplankton forms rich in essential biochemicals that are efficiently transferred to consumers, make coastal-estuarine ecosystems a unique place for high production of fish and shellfish.

Winder, M., Carstensen, J., Galloway, A. W. E., Jakobsen, H. H. and Cloern, J. E. (2017), The land–sea interface: A source of high-quality phytoplankton to support secondary production. Limnol. Oceanogr.. doi:10.1002/lno.10650

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Figure. Consumer growth and survival data performance as a function of diet % of long-chain essential fatty acids (LCEFA) grouped for important coastal organisms. These data suggest Increasing growth performance and a saturation or optima performance level with increase in diet LCEFA.

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