Masters Thesis

Primary phytoplankton productivity: a study of Elkhorn Slough, Monterey County, California.

An estuary is a coastal area where river water meets oceanic water. A characteristic of a tidal estuary is brackish water which shows fluctuations in salinity. These fluctuations are due to the diurnal periodicity of the tide and the influx of fresh water from precipitation. The differences in water density due to salinity and temperature prevent immediate mixing of the two water types and stratification frequently occurs. The river water usually contains a high concentration of nutrients which promote larger phytoplankton populations in most estuaries than those in adjacent oceanic areas (Sverdrup et al. 19*4-2).