Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Water quality affects the structure of copepod assemblages along the Sfax southern coast (Tunisia, southern Mediterranean Sea)

Zaher Drira A D , Salma Kmiha-Megdiche A , Houda Sahnoun B , Marc Pagano C , Marc Tedetti C and Habib Ayadi A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biodiversity and Aquatic Ecosystems UR/11ES72 Research Unit, Department of Life Sciences, Sfax Faculty of Sciences, University of Sfax, Soukra Road kilometre 3.5, BP 1171, 3000 Sfax, Tunisia.

B Coastal and Urban Environment Research Unit, Sfax Preparatory Engineering Institute (IPEIS), BP 901, 13288 Sfax, Tunisia.

C Aix-Marseille University, Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Toulon, Research Institute for Development (IRD), Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, UM 110, 13288 Marseille, France.

D Corresponding author. Email: zaherdrira@yahoo.fr

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17133
Submitted: 30 May 2016  Accepted: 5 August 2017   Published online: 26 September 2017

Abstract

The Sfax southern coast (Gulf of Gabes, Mediterranean Sea) has been under increased anthropogenic pressure for many years. In the present study we investigated the effects of this anthropisation on the spatial distribution of copepod assemblages in relation to the physicochemical features of seawater at 20 stations sampled on 19 March 2013. Copepods represented 73% of total zooplankton abundance. Small planktonic copepods (<1.45 mm), including pollution-tolerant species (e.g. Oithona nana, Paracalanus parvus, Harpacticus littoralis and Tisbe battagliai), proliferated exclusively in stations of ~0.5-m depth characterised by high coastal anthropogenic inputs. The largest copepod species were dominated by Calanus helgolandicus (1.45–2.5 mm) in the offshore zone in depths of ~3 m. Substantial numbers of Oithona plumifera (7.5%) were found at depths between 0.5 and 3 m. Copepod diversity was significantly higher in the southern zone, which is less affected by sewage, than in the northern zone, which was subjected to higher pressure (Shannon–Wiener index H′ = 1.5–2.5 and ≤1.5 bits individual–1). A shift in the planktonic copepod community between the two zones was linked to deterioration of water quality, with higher phosphorus levels, turbidity and chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the northern zone.

Additional keywords: anthropogenic inputs, chemical oxygen demand–5-day biochemical oxygen demand, COD–BOD5, diversity, zooplankton.


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