High-resolution sediment trap study of organic-walled dinoflagellate cyst production and biogenic silica flux in Saanich Inlet (BC, Canada)

Andrea M. Price, Vera Pospelova

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78 Scopus citations


Dinoflagellate cyst fluxes and assemblage composition were investigated from November 2007 to February 2010 in Patricia Bay, Saanich Inlet (BC, Canada). Samples were collected using a sediment trap deployed at ~97m water depth. The sampling interval ranged from 0.5 to 19.5days, allowing for a high-resolution study of dinoflagellate cyst production in relation to measured environmental parameters. Ninety-six samples were collected and a total of 42 dinoflagellate cyst taxa were identified. The dinoflagellate cyst flux was very high and ranged from ~149,000 to ~2,400,000cystsm-2day-1, with an average of ~777,000cystsm-2day-1.Seasonal and interannual variation in cyst assemblage was recorded. It reflects changes in environmental parameters such as sea-surface temperature, sea-surface salinity, solar insolation, river discharge, and biogenic silica flux. Fluxes of cysts produced by autotrophic dinoflagellates, particularly Spiniferites spp. and Spiniferites bentorii, were greatest during winter. Spring dinoflagellate cyst assemblages were dominated by Brigantedinium spp. and Quinquecuspis concreta. In summer the assemblages were characterized by an increase of cysts produced by heterotrophic dinoflagellates, in particular by Echinidinium delicatum, E. cf. delicatum, Votadinium spinosum and cysts of Protoperidinium minutum. Multivariate statistical analysis performed on the data supports the observed seasonal trends, where winter taxa are associated with low sea-surface temperatures, low salinity, and high Cowichan River discharge, whereas summer taxa are associated with warmer sea-surface temperatures, higher solar insolation and increased biogenic silica flux. The cyst assemblage from nearby surface sediment was shown to be very similar to an annual average sediment trap assemblage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-43
Number of pages26
JournalMarine Micropaleontology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) . We would like to thank Dr. Jim Gower for providing data from buoy 46134, Edward Wiebe (University of Victoria) for providing atmospheric parameters collected at Deep Cove Elementary School, and Maureen Soon (University of British Columbia) for biogenic silica analysis. The VENUS team and Jonathan Rose (University of Victoria) played a crucial role in deploying and maintaining the sediment trap, as well as retrieval of the samples. We also thank Drs. Richard Jordan, Kenneth Mertens and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments.


  • Biogenic silica
  • Dinoflagellate cysts
  • Palynomorphs
  • Phytoplankton
  • Saanich Inlet
  • Sediment trap
  • Tintinnid loricae


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