Responses of phytoplankton community to eutrophication in Semerak
Huey Hui Er
Li Keat Lee
Zhen Fei Lim
Sing Tung Teng
Chui Pin Leaw
Po Teen Lim
Received: 14 November 2017 /Accepted: 22 May 2018
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
Effects of aquaculture activities on the environmental parameters and phytoplankton community structure were investigated in a
semi-enclosed lagoon located at Semerak River, Malaysia. Elevated concentrations of phosphate and ammonia were observed at
the aquaculture area and the inner lagoon. Relatively low dissolved oxygen, high total chlorophyll a, and high phytoplankton
abundances but low species richness were recorded. Chaetoceros, Pseudo-nitzschia brasiliana, Blixaea quinquecornis,and
Skeletonema blooms were observed, and some were associated with anoxia condition. Eutrophication level assessed by
UNTRIX suggests that the water quality in the lagoon is deteriorating. Dissolved inorganic phosphorus and nitrogen at the
impacted area were 15 and 12 times higher than the reference sites, respectively. Such trophic status indices could provide a
useful guideline for optimal aquaculture management plan to reduce the environmental impact caused by aquaculture.
Keywords Algal blooms
In Malaysia, aquaculture industry has been developed since
1920 and becomes one of the high-value agricultural sectors.
Some aquaculture practices have been adopted in Malaysia,
i.e., freshwater, brackish water, and marine cultures (Hamdan
et al. 2003). However, with the expending coastal aquaculture
operations, more public attention and concerns have been giv-
en to the potential impact of aquaculture to the surrounding
waters (Sidik et al. 2008). While finfish cultures brought the
highest economic values to the country, this type of culture
system has posed the most serious impact to the surrounding
environments as compared to other mariculture activities such
as seaweed and shellfish cultures (Jiang et al. 2012).
The increasing severity of the impacts from fish farm ef-
fluence has been widely reported worldwide (Alongi et al.
2003; Guo and Li 2003; Navarro et al. 2008; Skejić et al.
2011; Jiang et al. 2013a;Bartozeketal.2014). For over three
decades, water enrichment with excess nutrients, particularly
phosphorus and nitrogen, is the major threat to the balance of
coastal marine ecosystem (Andersen et al. 2004). The combi-
nation of both anthropogenic inputs from terrestrial and inten-
sive aquaculture has intensified eutrophication in the coastal
waters (Jiang et al. 2013a); this subsequently affects sustain-
able economic development and social benefits of the coastal
waters (Bricker et al. 2008;Yangetal.2008).
Micro-phytoplankton are the main primary producers of
the estuarine and coastal ecosystems (Nixon 1986). They as-
similate nutrients and organic matters, serving as the main
food base to higher trophic levels (Alongi et al. 2009).
Phytoplankton were widely used as an indicator to measure
the changes of ecological and biogeochemical in the water
systems as phytoplankton are highly sensitive to various en-
vironmental changes, with high growth rate and measurable
photosynthetic responses (Paerl et al. 2007). The major cause
of the shift in phytoplankton community composition and
structure has been linked to nutrient increment and changes
Responsible editor: Thomas Hein
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2389-0) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Chui Pin Leaw
* Po Teen Lim
Bachok Marine Research Station, Institute of Ocean and Earth
Sciences, University of Malaya, 16310 Bachok, Kelantan, Malaysia
Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, Universiti Malaysia
Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia
Environmental Science and Pollution Research