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Abrupt changes in Potamogeton and Ruppia beds in a Mediterranean lagoon
Shili, A.; Maïz, N.B.; Boudouresque, C.F.; Trabelsi, E.B. (2007). Abrupt changes in Potamogeton and Ruppia beds in a Mediterranean lagoon. Aquat. Bot. 87(3): 181-188. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2007.03.010
In: Aquatic Botany. Elsevier Science: Amsterdam. ISSN 0304-3770, more
Peer reviewed article

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Keywords
    Biomass; Cartography; Potamogeton pectinatus L. [WoRMS]; Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande, 1918 [WoRMS]; MED, Tunisia [gazetteer]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Shili, A.
  • Maïz, N.B.
  • Boudouresque, C.F.
  • Trabelsi, E.B.

Abstract
    Until the early 1990s, the Ichkeul lagoon (80 km2, Tunisia) was characterised by the seasonal alternation of low and high salinity and by the presence (mainly in summer and autumn) of more or less extensive Potamogeton pectinatus beds (western and south-eastern zones). The yield was largely consumed by wintering waterfowl populations (almost exclusively phytophagous), making this lagoon one of the most important wintering places in northern Africa, and recognized as a high ecological value World Heritage site. Ruppia cirrhosa (together with Chaetomorpha linum floating mats) was confined to a small north-eastern or eastern zone of the lagoon. This is the distribution which the authors observed in 1993, in the course of a study running through 1998, with P. pectinatus covering 37 km2 (28,236 t DW) and 30 km2 (20,139 t DW) in summer and autumn, respectively. In 1994, P. pectinatus had disappeared, an event which had already occurred in the past; however, this situation was still apparent in 1998; such a 5 year absence had never been reported since at least the early 1960s. From 1996 onwards, R. cirrhosa and C. linum “moved” to the sites formerly occupied by P. pectinatus. Direct causes (shortage of freshwater input, salinity increase) and indirect ones (construction of dams in the water catchment area of the lagoon, a relative drought) can account for these abrupt changes. The persistence of this situation could threaten the Ichkeul lagoon, as a major site for the wintering of phytophagous waterfowl. .

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