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Phytoplankton succession and produktion

The phytoplankton, being the principal primary producer, forms the base of the food pyramid and has to be considered in all projects regarding the complexity of the entire ecosystem. It reacts directly on nutrient input (eutrophication) and is therefore an important parameter in the long-term monitoring programme of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM). It may serve as an indicator for the state of a water and is therefore also a parameter in the EU Water Framework Directive.

The existing phytoplankton data bank is mainly based on monitoring cruises that are conducted regularly since 1979. The phytoplankton is analysed qualitatively and quantitatively by experienced members of this working group, who are involved in regular quality assurance measures (e.g. QUASIMEME, HELCOM-Phytoplankton-Expert Group). The data are transferred to the German Oceanographic Data Centre (DOD) at BSH and to ICES. They form a basis for the long-term assessments of the state of the Baltic Sea and for numerous research projects.

The working group has comprehensive expertise on phytoplankton taxonomy and analysis of plant pigments (e.g. chlorophyll) and primary production. Cyanobacteria, including their nitrogen fixation, are of special interest. The phytoplankton data are evaluated regarding their spatial distribution, seasonal development and long-term trends, always in relation to the environmental factors. This is done in close cooperation with oceanographers and hydrochemists.


Thalassionema nitzschioides
Chaetoceros decipiens