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Drivers of the winter-spring phytoplankton bloom in a pristine NW Mediterranean site, the Bay of Calvi (Corsica): a long-term study (1979-2011)
Goffart, A.; Hecq, J.-H.; Legendre, L. (2015). Drivers of the winter-spring phytoplankton bloom in a pristine NW Mediterranean site, the Bay of Calvi (Corsica): a long-term study (1979-2011). Prog. Oceanogr. 137(Part A): 121-139. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2015.05.027
In: Progress in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford,New York,. ISSN 0079-6611, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Goffart, A., more
  • Hecq, J.-H., more
  • Legendre, L.

Abstract
    This work is based on a long time series of data collected in the well-preserved Bay of Calvi (Corsica island, Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean) between 1979 and 2011, which include physical characteristics (31 years), chlorophyll a (chl a, 15 years), and inorganic nutrients (13 years). Because samples were collected at relatively high frequencies, which ranged from daily to biweekly during the winter–spring period, it was possible to (1) evidence the key role of two interacting physical variables, i.e. water temperature and wind intensity, on nutrient replenishment and phytoplankton dynamics during the winter–spring period, (2) determine critical values of physical factors that explained interannual variability in the replenishment of surface nutrients and the winter–spring phytoplankton bloom, and (3) identify previously unrecognised characteristics of the planktonic ecosystem. Over the >30 year observation period, the main driver of nutrient replenishment and phytoplankton (chl a) development was the number of wind events (mean daily wind speed >5 m s-1) during the cold-water period (subsurface water ?13.5 °C). According to winter intensity, there were strong differences in both the duration and intensity of nutrient fertilisation and phytoplankton blooms (chl a). The trophic character of the Bay of Calvi changed according to years, and ranged from very oligotrophic (i.e. subtropical regime, characterised by low seasonal variability) to mesotrophic (i.e. temperate regime, with a well-marked increase in nutrient concentrations and chl a during the winter–spring period) during mild and moderate winters, respectively. A third regime occurred during severe winters characterised by specific wind conditions (i.e. high frequency of northeasterly winds), when Mediterranean “high nutrient – low chlorophyll” conditions occurred as a result of enhanced crossshore exchanges and associated offshore export of the nutrient-rich water. There was no long-term trend (e.g. climatic) in either nutrient replenishment or the winter–spring phytoplankton bloom between 1979 and 2011, but both nutrients and chl a reflected interannual and decadal changes in winter intensity.

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