Dynamics of Harmful Dinoflagellates Driven by Temperature and Salinity in a Northeastern Mediterranean Lagoon

Environ Monit Assess. 2013 Apr;185(4):3369-82. doi: 10.1007/s10661-012-2797-4. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


To attempt to determine the effects of temperature and salinity on the dynamics of the dinoflagellate community, a monthly sampling was carried out from October 2008 to March 2009 at eight sampling stations in Ghar El Melh Lagoon (GML; Mediterranean Sea, Northern Tunisia). Dinoflagellates were dominant among plankton, accounting for 73.9 % of the lagoon's overall plankton community, and were comprised of 25 different species among which 17 were reported in the literature as harmful. While no significant difference was found in the distribution of dinoflagellates among the stations, a strong monthly difference was observed. This temporal variability was due to an increase in the abundance of Prorocentrum micans from December to February, leading to a strong decrease in the Shannon diversity index from station to station. At the onset of P. micans development, dinoflagellate abundances reached 1.26.10(5) cells l(-1). A redundance analysis indicates that both temperature and salinity have a significant effect on the dynamics of the dinoflagellate community. Using a generalized additive model, both temperature and salinity appear to have significant nonlinear relationships with P. micans abundances. Model predictions indicate that outbreaks of P. micans may occur at a temperature below 22.5 °C and with salinity above 32.5. We discuss our results against a backdrop of climate change which, by affecting temperature and salinity, is likely to have an antagonistic impact on P. micans development and subsequently on the dinoflagellate dynamics in GML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change
  • Dinoflagellida / classification
  • Dinoflagellida / growth & development*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Eutrophication
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Phytoplankton / classification
  • Phytoplankton / growth & development*
  • Salinity
  • Seasons
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Temperature