Original paper

Zooplankton structure and dynamics in permanent and temporary Mediterranean salt marshes: taxon-based and size-based approaches

Brucet, Sandra; Boix, Dani López-Flores; Moreno-Amich, Ramon; Quintana, Xavier D.


Differences between zooplankton structure (species abundance and size distribution) and dynamics of permanent and temporary basins of a Mediterranean salt marsh (Empordà Wetlands, NE Spain) were analysed by means of taxon-based and size-based approaches. These basins are shallow bodies of water which are occasionally connected. They were isolated after water retreat from a broadly flooded, low-lying area close to the open sea. Although temporary and permanent basins show no differences in the most abundant zooplankton species, they differ in their zooplankton diversity, temporal pattern and size structure. The zooplankton assemblages of temporary basins exhibit a temporal pattern with six phases, which are conditioned to the hydrological cycle, each one dominated by one species, whereas in the permanent basin this temporal pattern shows only two phases. Zooplankton size distribution of the temporary basins is dominated by large sizes (copepodites and copepods) while the permanent basin is dominated mainly by small sizes (rotifera and nauplii of copepods). In the temporary basins, the shape of the biomass size spectrum changes according to the hydrological cycle and reflects the dynamics of the ecological interactions among zooplankton species. Differences in the zooplankton composition and dynamics of the permanent basin are not a consequence of water permanence but of the ecological interactions among species involved. The presence of a stable fish population in the permanent waters may explain the high values of zooplankton diversity and the low densities of large zooplankton.


ecological interactionsspecies diversityspecies richnessbiomass size spectrumphysiological scalingecological scalingemporda wetlandsspain