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Zooplankton abundance and community structure driven by tidal currents in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Boughrara, Tunisia, SW Mediterranean Sea)

Abstract : Lagoons and coastal marine zones are very productive and useful ecosystems, but they are threatened by the effects of global change and anthropogenic pressures. These effects have a negative impact on the zooplankton, weakening its function of phytoplankton consumer, leading to uncontrolled proliferation of microalgae in case of eutrophication. In this study we test the hypothesis that tidal exchanges with the sea can counteract these deleterious effect, by renewing the zooplankton community and by enhancing its top-down control of phytoplankton through selective retention of zooplankton grazers. Our study focused on the southern region of the Gulf of Gabes and the Boughrara lagoon which presents the highest tidal range in the Mediterranean. During two field campaigns (October 2016 and April 2017) we have analyzed zooplankton descriptive (taxonomic composition, abundance; biomass) and functional (ingestion rate, grazing pressure) variables and environmental variables during time series at a fixed station during ebb-flood sequences and at 8 stations along a sea-lagoon transect and during different tidal amplitude periods. Multivariate analyses of both environmental parameters and zooplankton taxa showed the existence of three distinct zones along the sea-lagoon transect, but also the influence of tidal circulation and water mixing on the renewal of the zooplankton community up to the innermost zones of the lagoon. Time series gave clear patterns for the input/output of marine/lagoon species and show a net import for different taxa and for the total zooplankton abundance and biomass (mean flood/ebb ratio = 2.2 for the total abundance and 2.4 for the biomass), leading to differential retention of zooplankton in the lagoon and to an increase in the potential grazing pressure on phytoplankton (mean flood/ebb ratio = 2.8). We also estimated that the grazing pressure in the lagoon was twice higher during the periods of high tidal amplitudes (at or close to spring tide) compared to periods with low amplitude (neap tides), clearly showing that the retention of zooplankton significantly increases the grazing impact on phytoplankton. These results highlight the importance of the tidal forcing for maintaining the good status of the zooplankton structure and function in strongly anthropized coastal and lagoon ecosystems.
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https://hal-amu.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03151803
Contributor : Marc Pagano <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 9:23:02 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 3:03:14 AM

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Nouha Makhlouf Belkahia, Marc Pagano, Cristele Chevalier, Jean Devenon, Mohamed Néjib Daly Yahia. Zooplankton abundance and community structure driven by tidal currents in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Boughrara, Tunisia, SW Mediterranean Sea). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2021, 250, pp.107101. ⟨10.1016/j.ecss.2020.107101⟩. ⟨hal-03151803⟩

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