400-Level Course Award


BIOL 451 - Biological Oceanography

Date of Award



Biology | Marine Biology

Description or Abstract

Phytoplankton communities have profound impacts on ecosystem health and function. In the Southern California Bight, hydrographic conditions play a key role in determining the composition of phytoplankton communities. This study conducted hydrographic and plankton community analyses of the nearshore environment off Dana Point, California, during late September. Similar to other studies in the SCB during fall, we observed weakly stratified, oligotrophic waters dominated by dinoflagellates under 10 μm. However, the recorded plankton abundances onshore vs. offshore deviated from the “green ribbon” typical of the SCB, in which phytoplankton are much more abundant onshore than offshore. Additionally, while the onshore community was dominated by Ceratium furca, the offshore community was dominated by Lingulodinium polyedra. L. polyedra is known to form Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), and the presence of this toxic dinoflagellate appears to have impacted community dynamics in the nearshore environment off Dana Point.