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Planktonic invaders of the St. Lawrence estuarine transition zone: environmental factors controlling the distribution of zebra mussel veligers
Barnard, C.; Frenette, J.-J.; Vincent, W.F. (2003). Planktonic invaders of the St. Lawrence estuarine transition zone: environmental factors controlling the distribution of zebra mussel veligers. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 60(10): 1245-1257
In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences = Journal canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques. National Research Council Canada: Ottawa. ISSN 0706-652X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Chlorophylls; Distribution; Environmental factors; Nursery grounds; Picoplankton; Plankton; Salinity; Veligers; Zooplankton; Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771) [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Barnard, C.
  • Frenette, J.-J.
  • Vincent, W.F.

Abstract
    The St. Lawrence estuarine transition zone (ETZ) is a productive ecosystem supporting a larval fish nursery. Since 1994, Dreissena polymorpha veligers have become the dominant zooplankton (up to 260 individuals·L-1). The environmental factors controlling their distribution across the ETZ and their potential impact on the plankton were determined. Their horizontal distribution was limited by salinity, with maximum decreases in concentration at 2‰. A sharp decline in prey availability at >2‰ may be a secondary stressor for the veligers, in addition to the direct effects of salinity. Their vertical distribution was homogeneous throughout the water column, even in the presence of a pycnocline. Redundancy analysis showed that veliger concentrations were positively correlated with temperature and turbidity and negatively correlated with salinity and total phosphorus. Veligers were also positively correlated with chlorophyll a and picophytoplankton concentrations, suggesting little effect on their phytoplankton prey. Moreover, the veligers were positively correlated with the sestonic ratio of particulate to total phosphorus, indicating their positive association with good food quality. The veligers appear to have no severe negative impacts on the ETZ plankton community and are restricted to favourable conditions for their survival in the upstream, low salinity region of the ETZ.

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