Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Annual variations in body-size spectra of planktonic ciliate communities and their relationships to environmental conditions: a case study in Jiaozhou Bay, northern China

Henglong Xua1 c1, Yong Jianga1, Wei Zhanga1, Mingzhuang Zhua1, Khaled A. S. Al-Rasheida2 and Alan Warrena3

a1 Laboratory of Protozoology, Institute of Evolution and Marine Biodiversity, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, China

a2 Zoology Department, King Saud University, PO Box 2455, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

a3 Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK

Abstract

The annual variations in body-size spectra of planktonic ciliate communities and their relationships to environmental conditions were studied based on a 12-month dataset (June 2007 to May 2008) from Jiaozhou Bay on the Yellow Sea coast of northern China. Based on the dataset, the body sizes of the ciliates, expressed as equivalent spherical diameters, included five ranks: S1 (5–35 μm); S2 (35–55 μm); S3 (55–75 μm); S4 (75–100 μm); and S5 (100–350 μm). These body-size ranks showed a clear temporal succession of dominance in the order of S2 (January–April) → S1 (May–July) → S4 (August–September) → S3 (October–December). Multivariate analyses showed that the temporal variations in their body-size patterns were significantly correlated with changes in environmental conditions, especially water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) and nutrients. In terms of abundance, rank S2 was significantly correlated with water temperature, DO and nutrients, whereas ranks S4 and S5 were correlated with the salinity and nutrients respectively (P < 0.05). These results suggest that the body-size patterns of planktonic ciliate communities showed a clear temporal pattern during an annual cycle and significantly associated with environmental conditions in marine ecosystems.

(Received June 17 2012)

(Accepted June 19 2012)

(Online publication August 09 2012)

Keywords

  • annual variation;
  • body-size spectra;
  • marine ecosystem;
  • microbial ecology;
  • planktonic ciliate

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: H. Xu, Laboratory of Protozoology, Institute of Evolution and Marine Biodiversity, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, China email: henglongxu@126.com