Webber, Mona K. ; Edwards-Myers, E. ; Campbell, C. ; Webber, Dale F
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Life Sciences
Phytoplankton and Zooplankton as indicators of water quality in Discovery Bay Jamaica
Date of Publication
Several investigations exist which use planktonic communities as indicators of water quality in Jamaican and Caribbean Bays, however, few are conducted before there are obvious effects of eutrophication. Therefore, most of our ‘baseline’ data are for bays already severely affected by pollution. This study was conducted to assess water quality in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, before there were severe signs of eutrophication. The bay was monitored over a 12-month period (October 1995–September 1996) using 10 stations. Physicochemical data indicated a well mixed upper 5 m of water column, below which discontinuities in temperature/salinity profiles indicated the influence of colder, more saline waters associated with deep offshore currents. Physicochemical variables were within the range for oligotrophic systems with a tendency towards mesotrophic in localized areas close to the shoreline. Signs of anthropogenic stress were associated with the eastern, southwestern and western sections of the bay. Of the over 120 species of phytoplankton found in the waters of Discovery Bay, most were neritic/oceanic and diatoms dominated while 11 were found to be potentially harmful species. While these harmful species occurred at all stations they occurred most frequently at stations on the eastern side of the bay. About 107 zooplankton species were identified, 52 of which were copepods. The species also represented a mix of neritic and oceanic taxa and mean abundances for the area ranged from 1077 m-3 at the mouth of the bay to 3794 m-3 close to the south shore (station 6). Generally stations closest to shore had greater zooplankton abundances than centrally located bay stations and stations close to oceanic influence. Acartia tonsa and Lucifer faxoni showed greatest densities at shoreline areas of the bay while Oithona plumifera, Undinula vulgaris and Temora stylifera were important at stations closest to oceanic influences. These species were thus considered as indicators of these different areas within the bay. From physicochemical data and the planktonic assemblage, Discovery Bay cannot be considered polluted, it is still more accurately classified as generally pristine with mesotrophic zones in the eastern and southeastern sections of the bay. These data therefore provide a real baseline of conditions for similar tropical coastal embayments....