, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 3718-3734

Restoration impact of an uncontrolled phosphogypsum dump site on the seasonal distribution of abiotic variables, phytoplankton and zooplankton along the near shore of the south-western Mediterranean coast

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Abstract

'In connection with the Taparura Project, we studied the distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities in relation to environmental variables at 18 stations sampled during four coastal cruises conducted between October 2009 and July 2010 on the north coast of Sfax (Tunisia, western Mediterranean Sea). The inshore location was largely dominated by diatoms (66 %) represented essentially by members of the genera Navicula, Grammatophora, and Licmophora. Dinophyceae were numerically the second largest group and showed an enhanced species richness. Cyanobacteriae developed in association with an important proliferation of colonial Trichodesmium erythraeum, contributing 39.4 % of total phytoplankton abundances. The results suggest that phytoplankters are generally adapted to specific environmental conditions. Copepods were the most abundant zooplankton group (82 %) of total zooplankton. A total of 21 copepod species were identified in all stations, with an overwhelming abundance of Oithona similis in autumn and summer, Euterpina acutifrons in winter, and Oncaea conifera in spring. The phosphogypsum restoration had been acutely necessary allowing dominant zooplankton species to exploit a wide range of food resources including phytoplankton and thus improving water quality.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues