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Spatial and temporal changes of suspended matter in relation to wind and vegetation cover in a Mediterranean shallow coastal environment

  • Autori: Sará, G.; Leonardi, M.; Mazzola, A.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 1999
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Seasonal and spatial changes in seston, (POC), particulate organic carbon, (PON) particulate organic nitrogen and chlorophyll-a concentrations were studied on a monthly basis in a Mediterranean shallow coastal area (Stagnone di Marsala, Western Sicily) in order to gather information on factors controlling particulate organic matter distribution and composition. Seston concentration and composition were connected to the main physicochemical and biological driving factors, such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, wind-speed and biomass of submerged vegetation. The Stagnone di Marsala is characterized by high temperatures with strong seasonality (range: 11-28°C), while values ranged from 33 to 45 salinity. Total suspended organic matter concentrations (by ignition loss) ranged from 2 mg l-1 (in summer) to 12 mg l-1 (in winter) and chlorophyll-a concentrations from 0.02 to 2 μmg l-1. Despite a low POC/PON ratios (ranging from 5 to 11), the ratio of POC to chlorophyll (CHL-a) displayed very high values (annual average of 647). The data reported in this study, highlighting the oligotrophy of the Stagnone di Marsala area, indicate that the trophic state of the basin was controlled by different degrees of wind exposure (mean monthly wind velocity at exposed sites ranged between 4.2 and 6.7 m s-1) and by gradients in vegetation cover. These two factors induced clear changes in the concentration and composition of the suspended particles, but played a different role in exposed and sheltered areas. Exposed areas with limited vegetation were characterized by large resuspension processes and wide temperature and salinity fluctuations caused by wind induced turbulence. In these areas, autotrophic biomass (as chlorophyll-a), due to phytoplankton and/or re-suspended microphytobenthos, appeared to play an important role in enhancing the quality of the organic particles. By contrast, in sheltered areas which were characterized by large amounts of plant detritus, the autotrophic biomass (mostly phytoplankton) was almost negligible and the availability of the suspended organic particles to consumers appeared to be dependent largely upon the bacterial ageing of vascular organic detritus.