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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Distribution patterns of bacterioplankton and chlorophyll-a in the German Wadden Sea

  • K. Poremba,
  • U. Tillmann and
  • K.-J. Hesse
Helgoland Marine Research53:90530028.10152


 In a first synoptic evaluation, the temporal and spatial distribution of bacterioplankton and chlorophyll-a were determined in the German Wadden Sea. Three surveys were undertaken in winter, spring, and summer of 1994 using up to eight ships simultaneously between the river Ems and Sylt island. Despite intensive hydrodynamic mixing of the Wadden Sea water, spatial gradients were obvious. The abundance of bacterioplankton ranged from 0.4 to 26×105 ml–1 and chlorophyll-a varied between <0.1 and 79 µg l–1. In winter, relatively homogeneous distribution patterns of both parameters with small gradients were found. Highest chlorophyll-a values connected with a highly patchy structure were observed in spring, while in summer both total chlorophyll-a values and the complexity of the distribution pattern had decreased. In contrast, bacterial numbers increased steadily from January to July with the highest bacterial densities and greatest patchiness observed in summer. Moreover, in some regions of the Wadden Sea, a trophic succession of algae as carbon producers and bacteria as consumers was evident. Correlation analysis verified the relationship between bacteria and chlorophyll a, indicating bottom-up control of bacterial abundance in the northern part of the German Wadden Sea. Since the observed regression slope is remarkably low (0.12–0.46) compared to literature values (0.5–0.8), we suggest that the link between phytoplankton and bacteria found here is a special characteristic of the Wadden Sea as a transition zone between the coastal region and the outer North Sea.

Key words  BacterioplanktonDistribution patternsWadden Sea