Impacts of an uncontrolled phosphogypsum dumpsite on summer distribution of phytoplankton, copepods and ciliates in relation to abiotic variables along the near-shore of the southwestern Mediterranean coast

Amira Rekik, Zaher Drira, Wassim Guermazi, Jannet Elloumi, Sami Maalej, Lotfi Aleya, Habib Ayadi
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 64 (2): 336-46
In connection with the Taparura Project, studies of spatial distribution of the crustacean zooplankton community, nutrients, phytoplankton and ciliates were conducted in July 2007 at 45 stations spread over fifteen transects along the coast north of Sfax. The results showed that the N/P ratio was lower than the Redfield ratio, suggesting potential N limitation. Phytoplankton was characterised by the proliferation of several diatoms, while ciliates were largely dominated by spirotrichs. Copepods were the most abundant zooplankton present during the entire study period, comprising 61% of the total zooplankton community. Twelve copepod families were identified at every station, with a high percentage of Oithonidae (77% of copepods) dominated by Oithona nana. The abundance of this species was correlated with that of diatoms, Cocoolithophorideae and ciliated Colpodea, suggesting that O. nana may feed on a wide range of prey. Despite human pressure and industrial activities, the coastal waters north of Sfax showed a wide diversity of phytoplankton, ciliates and zooplankton.

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