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Front Microbiol. 2019 Mar 13;10:451. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00451. eCollection 2019.

Historical Occurrence of Algal Blooms in the Northern Beibu Gulf of China and Implications for Future Trends.

Xu Y1,2, Zhang T1,2, Zhou J3.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Environment Change and Resources Use in Beibu Gulf, Ministry of Education, Guangxi Teachers Education University, Nanning, China.
2
Guangxi Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Intelligent Simulation, Guangxi Teachers Education University, Nanning, China.
3
Division of Ocean Science and Technology, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, China.

Abstract

Large-scale harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur in the coastal waters of the northern Beibu Gulf, China, and have deleterious effects on the marine ecosystem. The frequency, duration, and extent of HAB events in this region have increased over the last 30 years. However, the underlying causes of HABs and their likely future trends are unclear. To investigate, we evaluated historical data for temporal trends of HABs in the Beibu Gulf, and association with environmental factors as possible drivers. The results confirmed that HAB events had increased in frequency, from 6 reported events during the period 1985-2000, to 13 during 2001-2010, and 20 during 2011-2017. We also found that the geographic scale of algal blooms had increased from tens of km2 to hundreds of km2. There were temporal changes in HAB trigger species: prior to 2000, the cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa was the dominant species, while during the period 2001-2010, blooms of cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, and diatoms co-occurred, and during 2011-2017, the haptophyte Phaeocystis globosa became the dominant algal bloom species. Principal component analysis and variation partitioning analysis indicated that nutrient discharge, industrial development, and human activities were the key drivers of HAB events, and redundancy analysis showed that variation in the algal community tended to be driven by nutrient structure. Other factors, such as shipping activities and mariculture, also contributed to HAB events and algal succession, especially to P. globosa blooms. We speculated that the increasing severity of algal blooms in the northern Beibu Gulf reflects a more complex aquatic environment and highlights the damaging effects of anthropogenic inputs, urbanization development, and an expanding industrial marine-economy on the marine ecosystem. This research provides more insight into the increase of HABs and will aid their management in the Beibu Gulf.

KEYWORDS:

Beibu Gulf; Phaeocystis globosa; algal blooms; management; marine pollution; occurrence trend

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