The combined effects of temperature and salinity on growth of Alexandrium monilatum were studied in laboratory cultures. This toxic, red-tide dinoflagellate grew faster with higher temperatures, up to a maximum of approximately I division per day at 31 degreesC. Salinities above 15 psu had a lesser effect on growth rate, as might be expected for an estuarine species. Growth rates of cultures exposed to natural light and temperature fluctuations were comparable to laboratory cultures. The minimum N cell quota suggested that high N flux would be required to support bloom development. A literature survey of documented A. monilatum blooms indicated that within US waters, blooms occur in July-September in nearshore or estuarine regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Atlantic coast. Temperature and salinity measured during blooms correspond to the optimal growth conditions of the laboratory cultures. Nevertheless, the occurrence of A. monilatum blooms is sporadic compared to the occurrence of seemingly optimal growth conditions. Laboratory growth experiments predict when blooms of this species are unlikely due to low growth rates, but so far cannot predict individual blooms. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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