Phytoplankton biomass (as carbon) was estimated from chlorophyll a concentrations (Chla) and a mean value for the ratio of phytoplankton carbon to chlorophyll a in San Francisco Bay. The ratio was determined as the slope of a Model II regression of POC' against (Chla), where POC' is total particulate organic carbon minus sediment-associated non-phytoplankton carbon. Samples from 30 fixed sites in the channel and lateral shoals of San Francisco Bay were collected once or twice a month from April to November 1980, and at irregular intervals in South Bay during 1984 and 1985. For all data the calculated mean value of phytoplankton C:Chla was 51 (95% confidence interval = 47-54). No significant differences were found in the C:Chla ratio between shallow and deep sites (where light availability differs) or between northern and southern San Francisco Bay (where phytoplankton community composition differs). Using the mean C:Chla ratio of 51, we calculated that phytoplankton biomass constitutes about one third of seston carbon under most circumstances, but this fraction ranges from about 95% during phytoplankton blooms to less than 20% during spring periods of low phytoplankton biomass and high suspended sediment concentration. ?? 1987.
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The phytoplankton component of seston in San Francisco Bay