Long-term trends and causal factors associated with Microcystis abundance and toxicity in San Francisco Estuary and implications for climate change impacts

P. W. Lehman, K. Marr, G. L. Boyer, S. Acuna, Swee J Teh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

The impacts of climate change on Microcystis blooms in San Francisco Estuary are uncertain because factors associated with the abundance and distribution of Microcystis blooms since their inception in 1999 are poorly understood. Discrete and continuous data collected between 2004 and 2008 were used to assess what factors controlled bloom initiation and persistence, if there was an impact of the bloom on mesozooplankton abundance and toxicity or dissolved organic carbon concentration, and how these might vary with climate change. Microcystis abundance was greater in dry years than wet years and both total microcystins concentration and the microcystins content of mesozooplankton tissue increased with abundance. The bloom began in the upstream portions of the estuary and spread farther west during dry years. Bloom initiation required water temperature above 19°C and surface irradiance in the visible range above 100 W m-2. The bloom persisted during a wide range of water quality conditions but was closely correlated with low turbidity. The intensity of Microcystis blooms will likely increase with climate change due to increased water temperature and low streamflow during droughts. Elevated water temperature earlier in the spring could also extend the duration of Microcystis blooms by up to 3 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-158
Number of pages18
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume718
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Environmental factors
  • Estuary
  • Microcystins
  • Microcystis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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