Phytoplankton assemblages from tropical (Goa) and temperate (UK) locations were exposed to a 28 day dark period, followed by a period of re-exposure to light. During this time phytoplankton survival and changes in nutrient concentrations were mapped. The tropical plankton water samples showed high nutrient levels after the dark period which were utilised by cells during the re-exposure period. UK experiments looked at the effect of three different water types on population recovery after the 28 day dark period, and differences due to seasonal effects. The population growth observed during the re-exposure period in the tropical population was comparable to that of the temperate population. Water type affected recovery and of the three tested media fresh seawater promoted the highest levels of growth. Seasonality had a significant influence on species survival. Understanding the effects of all these factors can aid the development of effective risk assessments in ballast water management.