Basin scale distribution of zooplankton in the Ligurian Sea (north-western Mediterranean) in late autumn

Licandro, P and Icardi, P 2009 Basin scale distribution of zooplankton in the Ligurian Sea (north-western Mediterranean) in late autumn. Hydrobiologia, 617 (1). 17-40.

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Mesozooplankton biomass and abundance were evaluated in epipelagic waters at 59 stations covering the Italian sector of the Ligurian Sea (north-western Mediterranean) in December 1990. This region is characterised by a cyclonic circulation which encloses a central divergence zone and is associated with a main thermohaline front offshore the western Ligurian coast. At the end of autumn, mesozooplankton biomass (range: 0.80–4.24 mg DW m−3) and the abundance (range: 83.8–932 ind. m−3) were lower in the divergence zone. On the contrary, in the Ligurian frontal zone at the periphery of the divergence and on the eastern continental shelf the greatest values of biomass and abundance were recorded. Copepods and appendicularians dominated the mesozooplankton community, the main taxa being the copepods Clausocalanus spp. (46% of total zooplankton) and Oithona spp. (15%) and the appendicularian Fritillaria spp. (12%). Three hydrological sub-regions, i.e. the divergence, the eastern continental shelf and the periphery of the divergence, were characterised by different zooplankton communities and characteristic species. Environmental differences between the three zones were mainly related to changes in bottom topography, sea surface temperatures and quantity of particulate organic matter. Vertical mesozooplankton abundance and taxa distribution from the surface to 1,900 m depth were also examined in one station. The results showed that the bulk of the community was concentrated in the upper 200 m, small copepods being dominant particularly in the upper 50 m. The copepod community was more diversified in sub-superficial waters, with a maximum observed in the 200–400 m layer. The distributions of main zooplankton taxa described in epipelagic waters in the eastern Ligurian Sea in autumn were compared with their distribution at surface in the north-western Mediterranean obtained by sampling performed with the Continuous Plankton Recorder in 1997–1999. The analysis of the zooplankton community in CPR samples confirms the dominance of small copepods (Paracalanus spp., Clausocalanus spp., Oithona spp.) and appendicularians in the north-western Mediterranean in late autumn-winter and shows that their distribution is mainly related to the main mesoscale hydrographic features characterising this basin.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
Depositing User: Miss Gemma Brice
Date made live: 26 Mar 2014 14:09
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:11

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