Space and time distribution of zooplankton in a Mediterranean lagoon (Etang de Berre)
Space Partition within Aquatic Ecosystems
In the Berre lagoon, a large brackish and shallow area near Marseille, the environmental factors (temperature, salinity, oxygen, suspended particulate matter and chlorophyll) generally display strong space and time variations . The rotifer Brachionus plicatilis and the copepod Acartia tonsa constitute the bulk of the zooplankton population during all the year. Their space and time distributions were studied in 23 stations distributed all over the lagoon, during four seasonal cruises (February,
... cruises (February, June, October, November), at surface and bottom layers . There is no marked difference in the horizontal and vertical distribution of the two species, (except in November when rotifers were prevailing in surface and copepods at depth) and in their time occurrence . When the four series of data are pooled, correlation analysis show that A . tonsa is positively correlated with temperature, salinity and seston and negatively to oxygen and chlorophyll . B. plicatilis is positively correlated with temperature and seston, but also with chlorophyll, while salinity has a negative effect . The specific eggs number of both species is chlorophyll dependent . Considering seasonal cruises separately, some differences appear in the sense or the significance of these different correlations . The respective distribution of the two species is only partly dependent on the variation of the environmental factors : most of the variance remains unexplained, as indicated by the result of a stepwise multiple regression analysis using the most significant factors (temperature, salinity and oxygen explain 33 to 42% of the variance in Acartia, while temperature and salinity explain 27 to 28% of the variance in Brachionus) . Thus, internal behavioral factors could also play a role in the distribution of organisms, particularly in some cases of aggregations of organisms observed during this study . As the two species occupied the same space habitat most of the year, they are potentially in competition for food . A way to optimize the food utilization could be the time separation of their feeding activity, nocturnal in Acartia and diurnal in Brachionus . Another way could be selective feeding upon food particles depending on their size (Brachionus being able to use finer particles than Acartia) or their quality (Brachionus being more herbivorous than Acartia) as demonstrated in some grazing experiments carried out in parallell .