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Myrionecta rubra bloom initiation in the Columbia River estuary

TitleMyrionecta rubra bloom initiation in the Columbia River estuary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHerfort L, Peterson TD, Campbell V, Futrell S, Zuber P
Journal TitleEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Keywordsbiogeochemical cycles, Columbia River, mesodinium rubrum, Myrionecta rubra, red waters

To better understand the development of the annually recurring late summer red water blooms of the phototrophic ciliate Myrionecta rubra in the Columbia River estuary we examined its standing stocks and measured its growth rates both in the estuary main channels and in Baker Bay, a peripheral embayment situated near the river mouth. Data collected during two summers show a biphasic development of M. rubra blooms, with an initial phase when the protist was only detected in Baker Bay, followed by an established phase when red waters were observed throughout the lower estuary. Ilwaco harbor (Baker Bay’s seaward-end) is at least one of the locations where the bloom starts since M. rubra was detected there at concentrations >100s cell L-1 before Chinook harbor (Baker Bay’s upriver-end) or the estuary main channels. In 2010, this initial phase lasted about 1.5 months, spanning the neap tide of early July to the beginning of the neap tide of mid-August. While high growth rates were measured in Ilwaco harbor during the initial phase (1.2-3.1 d-1) and in the estuary main channels in both surface red (0.7 d-1) and adjacent non-red (1.1 d-1) waters during the established period, growth of the ciliate was not detected in Ilwaco harbor during this second phase. Growth rate data obtained during the established bloom phase also suggest that M. rubra cells in the estuary mostly divide during the daytime and that red water patches might experience self-shading.