Zooplankton assemblages and biomass during a 4-period survey in a northern Mediterranean coastal lagoon

T Lam-Hoai, C Rougier
Water Research 2001, 35 (1): 271-83
The authors proposed to examine zooplankton biomass at three stations inside (T and Z) and outside (M) a coastal lagoon of the north-western Mediterranean Sea. Station T represented the lagoon central area, and station Z was positioned in a shellfish farming sector, while the seaside station (M) served as a reference of marine environment. Analyses were designed to outline the net zooplankton assemblages (taxonomic structures and length distributions) in different environmental conditions, including the farming activity. A discriminant analysis of environmental variables determined that temperature, salinity and phytoplankton implied mainly in spatial pattern of the samples. An ordination of taxa biomasses showed two main factors which might contribute to the organisation of the zooplankton assemblages: the geographical position and the thermal period. The geographical position integrated the lagoon-sea water exchange under forcing parameters (habitat, tides and winds). The thermal period reflected both the populations development cycles and the environmental constraints (temperature, salinity, trophic resources). The resulting effects appeared in structured zooplankton assemblages in space and time. The number of 50 microns interval length classes and of taxa decreased from the seaside and the lagoon central area free of farming activity to the shallower farming zone. But the biomass-length distribution profiles did not closely follow such an expected opposition between opened and confined areas: more extended profiles were observed at station Z. Biomass dominant size classes concerned the range up to 300 microns. This size category appeared to collapse in terms of biomass from the seaside or central area of the lagoon towards the farming area, similarly to zooplankton global biomass fluctuations. Difference between biomass levels and between biomass structures suggested that net zooplankton partly acted as food competitors of macro-filtering organisms, and as preys for farming shellfish and associated epifauna. This impact mainly concerned microzooplankton populations.

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