Date of Award

Summer 8-10-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Peter Marcotullio

Second Advisor

Karl Szekielda

Academic Program Adviser

Hongmian Gong


Pfiesteria piscicida and P. shumwayae are toxic dinoflagellates implicated in massive fish kills in North Carolina and Maryland during 1990s. A set of physical, chemica l, and biological factors influence population dynamics of these organisms. This study employs i nformation gathered from relevant literature on temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbulent mixing, and dissolved nutrients, bacteria, algae, microzooplankton, mesozooplankton, bivalve m ollusks, finfish, and other toxic dinoflagellates, which influence Pfiesteria population dynamics. The research focused on whether conditions in the Great South Bay, Long Island, New York were suitable to blooms of Pfiesteria species prior to the passage of superstorm Sandy in October 2012. The Great South Bay is a coastal lagoon under intensive physicoche mical and biological study. A comparison of conditions between areas where Pfiesteria blooms emerged and that of he Great South Bay proved inconclusive. The simply inventory-like ana lysis was, therefore, insufficient to be employed in answering the research question. S eemingly, residence time plays an important role in coastal marine environments characterized by high degree of separation from coastal ocean. Suitability of Great South Bay to Pfiesteria blooms could not be established based on simple comparative analysis which did not stress the importa nce of residence time; it proved inconclusive with respect to two determinants of Pfiesteria population dynamics— turbulent mixing and potential interactions of Pfiesteria with zooplankton. However, based on analysis that recognized lagoonal character of Great South Ba y and the importance of residence time, prior to the passage of Sandy, the confined areas of Great S outh Bay’s easternmost reaches constitute environments where Pfiesteria blooms appear to have been feasible. Blooms have never occurred, though. Some of the reasons as to why this might be t he case include general complexity of HAB development and persistence as well as inte ractions with viruses and abundant populations of brown tide species Aureococcus anophagefferens .



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