Temperature and photoperiod effects on phytoplankton growing under simulated mixed layer light fluctuations

Tom Shatwell, Andreas Nicklisch and Jan Köhler

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(2), 2012, 541-553 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.2.0541

ABSTRACT: We measured specific growth rates of Stephanodiscus minutulus, Nitzschia acicularis (diatoms), and Limnothrix redekei (cyanobacterium) under fluctuating and constant light in semi-continuous culture at 10°C, 15°C, and 20°C and under photoperiods of 6 h d-1 and 12 h d-1. Fluctuating light regimes simulated regular vertical mixing in lakes with a ratio of euphotic to mixed depth (zeu : zmix) of 1 and 0.5 on a cloudless day. Light fluctuations at zeu : zmix = 1 decreased the growth rates of S. minutulus, N. acicularis, and L. redekei by 18%, 33%, and 29%, respectively, compared to constant light at the same daily light supply. Temperature had no effect on this decrease. Halving zeu : zmix (simulating deep mixing) had the same effect on growth as halving the photoperiod, demonstrating that these factors are cumulative. We introduce a simple empirical factor to adjust growth rates measured under constant light to account for fluctuating light. This factor is independent of temperature and photoperiod, applies over a range of zeu : zmix, and accurately describes present and published growth rates of several species. We show how to account for temporal variability of the light supply at different temperatures and photoperiods when predicting growth rates of phytoplankton.

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