Lee Hin Lee, Fredolin Tangang, Fatimah Md Yusoff, Zelina Z. Ibrahim, Mohd Fadhil Kasim, Mohd Afzaihelmi


Phytoplankton is a vital and important organism as a producer of the primary food supply of the marine and freshwater food webs. This study is conducted to investigate the variability of phytoplankton abundance related to environmental variables in the Terengganu River Estuary, by using statistical analysis. Total of ten water samples were collected, of which three stations were in the estuary and seven stations were in the coastal water. A total of 124 taxa of 55 genera, belonging to six taxonomic classes were observed at the study area. The order of phytoplankton abundance was diatoms > blue-green algae > golden-brown algae > dinofalgellates > green algae > euglenoids. The phytoplankton abundance was higher in the coastal area compared to the estuary, with the maximum density 764.10 cells mL-1 and 157.40 cells mL-1 respectively. It was recorded that 10.96% of the total abundance from the data collection was registered in the estuary, while the remaining 89.04% were logged in the coastal region. The freshwater phytoplankton was dominated by golden-brown algae (Chrysophyceae), while marine phytoplankton was governed by diatoms and blue-green algae. It was observed that the water temperature and salinity were positively correlated with marine phytoplankton but negatively related to freshwater phytoplankton. High levels of water temperature and hypersalinity at the coastal region was observed to enhance the production rate in the coastal region. In contrast, the nutrients were positively related to freshwater phytoplankton, but negatively correlated to the marine phytoplankton, which results in low concentrations of nutrients in the coastal region that could be caused by intensive uptake by the abundance of marine phytoplankton. This study revealed that environmental variables are an important element in determining the phytoplankton community compositions in the tropical region.


Estuary, coastal water, environmental variables, nutrients, phytoplankton

Full Text:



Alsalahi, M.A., Latif, M.T., Ali, M.M., Magam, S.M., Wahid, N.B.A., Khan,M.F., Suratman, S., (2014). Distribution of Surfactants along the estuarine area of Selangor River, Malaysia. Marine Pollution Bulletin 80, 344-350

Anton, A., Alexander, J., Estim, A., (2000). Harmful algal blooms in Malaysia: Revisiting Kimanis Bay. In: 9th International Conference on Toxic Phytoplankton, Tasmania (Abstract).

Anton, A., Teoh, P.L. Shaleh, S.R.M., Noor, N.M., (2008). First occurrence of Cochlodinium blooms in Sabah, Malaysia. Harmful Algae 7, pp 331-336.

APHA, (2005). Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 21st ed. American water works Association, Water Environment Federation, Washington.

Bethoux, J.P., Morin, P., Ruiz-Pino, D.P., (2002). Temporal trends in nutrient rations: chemical evidence of Mediterranean ecosystem changes driven by human activity, Deep Sea Research Part II 49, 2007-2006.

Burford, M.A., Webster,I.T., Revill, A.T., Kenyon, R.A., Whittle, M. & Curwen, G. (2012). Controls on phytoplankton productivity in a wet-dry tropical estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and shelf Science 113, 141-151.

Cole, C.V., Sanford. R.L., (1989). Biological aspects of the Phosphorus cycle, in : proceedings Symposium on phosphorus requirements for sustainable agriculture in Asia and Oceania, SCOPE/UNEP, March 6-10

DID (Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Terengganu, Malaysia) (2010). Terengganu River integrated river basin management study: DID

Dorgham, M.M. Abdel, A.N.E., Deeb, K.Z., Okbah, M.A., (2004). Eutrophication problems in the West Harbour of Alexandria, Egyt. Oceanologia 46, 25-44

Fambo,F.A.N., Scharler, U.M., Tirok, K., (2015). Resilience of estuarine phytoplankton and their temporal variability along salinity gradients during drought and hypersalinity. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, article in press pp 1-13

Grasshoff, K., (1999). Methods of seawater analyses. Verlag Chemie, Weinheim

Heneash, A.M.M., Tadrose, H.R.Z., Hussein, M.M.A., Hamdona, S.K., Aziz, N. A., Gharib, S.M., (2015). Potential effects of abiotic factors on the abundance and distribution of the plankton in the Western Harbour, South-eastern Mediterranean Sea, Egyt. Oceanologia 57, 61-70

Huertas I.E., Rouco M., López-Rodas V., Costas E., (2011), Warming will affect phytoplankton differently: evidence through a mechanistic approach, Proc. Roy.Soc. B: Biol. Sci., 278 (1724), http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.0160

Kim, D. I., Matsuyama, Y., Nagasoe, S., Yamaguchi, M., Yoon, Y.H., Oshima, Y., Imada, N., Honjo, T., (2004). Effects of temperature, salinity and irradiance on the growth of the harmful red tide dinoflagellate Cochlodinium polykrikoides Margalef (Dinophyceae). J.Plankton Res. 26, 61-66

Lassen, M.F., Bramm, M., Richardson, K., Yusoff, F.M., Shariff, M., (2004). Phytoplankton community composition and size distribution in the Langat River estuary, Malaysia. Estuaries Coasts. 27, 716-727.

Legendre, L., Wat, W.D., (1972). On a rapid technique for plankton enumeration. Ann. Inst. Oceonogr. 48, 173-177

Leterme, S.C., Jendyk.J.G., Ellis, A.V., Brown, M.H., Kildea, T., (2014). Annual phytoplankton dynamics in the Gulf Saint Vincent, South Australia, in 2011. Oceanologia 65 (4), pp 757-778

Lund, J.W.G., Kipling, C and LeCren, E.D., (1958). The inverted microscope method of estimating algal numbers and statistical basis of estimations by counting. Hydrobiologia. 11,143-170

Nursuhayati, A.S., Yosof, F.M., Shariff, M., (2013). Spatial and temporal distributionof phytoplankton in Perak Estuary, Malaysia, during monsoon season. J.Fish. Aqua. Sci. 8, 480-493

Praveena, S.M., Chen, K.S., Ismail, S. N. S., (2013). Indicators of microbial beach water quality: Preliminary findings from Teluk Kemang beach, Port Dickson (Malaysia). Marine Pullution Bullentin. 76, 417-419

Roy, R.N., (1977). Red tide and outbreak of paralyt ic shellfish poisoning in Sabah. Med.J. Malaysia XXXI. 247-251

Salleh, A., Wakid, S.A., Bahnan, I.S., (2008). Diversity of phytoplankton collected during the scientific expedition to Pulau Perak, Pulau Jarak and the Sembilan group of Islands. Malaysia Journal of Science. 27 (3):33-45

Satpathy, K.K., Mohanty, A.K., Netesan, U., Prasad, M.V.R., sarkar, S.K., (2010). Seasonal variation in physicochemical properties of coastal waters of Kalpakkam, east coast of India with special emphasis on nutrients. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 164, 153-171

Shah, M,M,R., Hossain, M.Y., Begun, M., Ahmad, Z.F., Ohtomi, J., (2008). Seasonal variations of phytoplankton community structure and production in relation to environmental factors of the Southwest Coastal waters of Bangladesh. Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science. 3, 102-113

Shen, P.P., Li, G., Huang, L.M., Zhang, J.L., Tan, Y.H., (2011). Spatio-temporal variability of phytoplankton assemblages in the Pearl River estuary, with special reference to the influence of turbidity and temperature. Continental Shelf Research. 31, 1672-1681

Sin, Y., Lee, E., Lee, Y., Shin, K., (2015). The river estuarine continuum of nutrients and phytoplankton communities in an estuary physically divided by sea dike. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2014.12.028

Suhaila, J. and Jemain, A.A., (2009). Investigating the impacts of adjoining wet days on the distribution of daily rainfall amounts in Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Hydrology. 368, 17-25.

Sultan, K. and Shazili, N.A., (2010). Geochemical baselines of major, minor and trace elements in the tropical sediments of the Terengganu River basin, Malaysia. International Journal Of Sediment Research. 24, 340-354.

Tangang, F.T., Juneng, L., Salimun, E., Kwan, M.S., Loh, J.L., Muhamad, H.,( 2012). Climate change and variability over Malaysia: gaps in science and research information. Sains Malaysiana. 41(11), 1355-1366.

Thangaradjou, T., Sethubathi, G.V., Raja. S., Poornima, D., Shanthi, R., Balasubramanian. T., Babu, K., Shukla, A.K., (2012). Influence of environmental variables on plankton floristic pattern along the shallow coasts of southwest Bay of Bengal. Algal Research 1, 43-154

Vijith, V., Sundar, D., Shetye, S.R., (20090. Time-dependence of salinity in monsoonal estuaries. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 85, 601-608

DOI: https://doi.org/10.11113/mjce.v28.153


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2018 Penerbit UTM Press, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Disclaimer : This website has been updated to the best of our knowledge to be accurate. However, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the usage of any information obtained from this web site.
Best viewed: Mozilla Firefox 4.0 & Google Chrome at 1024 × 768 resolution.