[Seasonal phytoplankton responses to N:Si:P enrichment ratio in the Bizerte Lagoon (southwestern Mediterranean)]

Mohamed Ali Chikhaoui, Asma Sakka Hlaili, Hassine Hadj Mabrouk
Comptes Rendus Biologies 2008, 331 (5): 389-408
This study investigated the role of N, P and Si enrichments on phytoplankton in the Bizerte Lagoon (southwestern Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia) during March, June, August, October and December 2004. Polycarbonate bottles were enriched with different nutrients according to four treatments N:Si:P ratios [+NSi/-P (40:40:1), +P/-NSi (20:20:2,5), +NP/-Si (16:0:1) and +Si/-NP (16:32:1)] and incubated in situ during six days. Chl a and carbon biomass of phytoplankton varied significantly during the course of months, with the highest levels recorded in summer (4-4.4 microg Chl a L(-1) or 1126-1721 microg C L(-1)). Dinoflagellates dominated the initial phytoplankton communities, except in August, when diatoms represented a high fraction of microalgae (48%). Enrichment experiments induced significant increases in Chl a and in the final phytoplankton carbon biomasses. In summer (June/August), Si was the main limiting element for phytoplankton. Diatoms strongly responded to +Si/-NP and +NSi/-P enrichments and dominated the final phytoplankton communities (52-61%) in both treatments. Si played the most important role in the growth and development of diatoms. The biomasses and growth rates of dinoflagellates were significantly stimulated by +P/-NSi and +NP/-Si enrichments. After 6 days, dinoflagellates represented more than 70% of the total phytoplankton biomass in samples subjected to these treatments. Moreover, the addition of +P/-NSi increased the biomasses of several dinoflagellates. This suggests that dinoflagellates were mostly controlled by P availability. Unlike diatoms and dinoflagellates, flagellates showed weak responses to nutrient treatments during only some months of the year. The results showed that phytoplankton dynamics in the lagoon were influenced by nutrients in different manners.

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