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Phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing rates in a restricted Mediterranean lagoon (Bizerte Lagoon, Tunisia)
Hlaili, A.S.; Grami, B.; Mabrouk, H.H.; Gosselin, M.; Hamel, D. (2007). Phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing rates in a restricted Mediterranean lagoon (Bizerte Lagoon, Tunisia). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 151(2): 767-783.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Hlaili, A.S.
  • Grami, B.
  • Mabrouk, H.H.
  • Gosselin, M.
  • Hamel, D.

    Phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing were investigated in the restricted Bizerte Lagoon in 2002 and 2004. The 2002 study, carried out at one station from January to October, showed significant seasonal variations in phytoplankton dynamics. High growth rates (0.9–1.04 day-1), chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations (6.6–6.8 µg l-1) and carbon biomass (392–398 µg C l-1) were recorded in summer (July), when several chain-forming diatoms had intensively proliferated and dominated the carbon biomass (74%). In 2004, four stations were studied during July, a period also characterized by the high proliferation of several diatoms that made up 70% of the algal carbon biomass. In 2004, growth rates (0.34–0.45 day-1) and biomass of algae (2.9–5.4 µg Chl a l-1 and 209–260 µg C l-1) were low, which may be related to the lower nutrient concentrations recorded in 2004. Microzooplankton >5 µm were mainly composed of heterotrophic dinoflagellates and ciliates. Microzooplankton biomass peaked during summer (2002 320–329, 2004 246–361 µg C l-1), in response to the enhanced phytoplankton biomass and production. The grazer biomass was dominated by ciliates (71–76%) in July 2002 and by heterotrophic dinoflagellates (52–67%) in July 2004. Throughout the year and at different stations, microzooplankton grazed actively on phytoplankton, removing 26–58% of the Chl a and 57-84% of the primary production. In 2002, the highest grazing impact was observed on the large algae (>10 µm) during the period of diatom dominance. These results have a significant implication for carbon export to depth. Indeed, the recycling of most of the diatom production by the microbial food web in the upper water column would reduce the flux of material to the seafloor. This should be considered when modeling the carbon cycling in coastal environments and under conditions of diatom dominance. During both studies, ciliates had higher growth rates (0.5–1.5 day-1) and a higher carbon demand (165–470 µg C l-1 day-1) than dinoflagellates (0.1–0.5 day-1, 33–290 µg C l-1 day-1). Moreover, when grazer biomass was dominated by ciliates (in July 2002), herbivory accounted for 71–80% of the C ingested by microzooplankton while it accounted only for 14–23% when dinoflagellates dominated the grazer biomass (in July 2004). These results suggest that, in contrast to findings from open coastal waters, ciliate species of the restricted Bizerte Lagoon were more vigorous grazers of the large algae (diatoms) than were dinoflagellates.

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