The distribution of the zooplankton community was studied along with environmental factors at five sampling stations in Ghar El Melh Lagoon (GML) (Mediterranean Sea, northern Tunisia). GML is characterized by specific following properties: broad and shallow, freshwater supply (Station 1); connection to the sea (S2); stagnation (S3 especially), and eutrophic conditions with enhanced nutrient concentrations (S4 and S5). Samples were taken twice monthly from February 2011 to January 2012. Twenty-three zooplankton groups comprising 10 larval stages were identified. Zooplankton assemblages were largely dominated by copepods (37.25%), followed respectively by ciliates (21.09%), bivalve larvae (14.88%) and gastropod veligers (12.53%). Redundancy analysis indicated that while no significant difference was found in the distribution of zooplankton at any station, a strong difference was observed according to season. Both temporal and physicochemical fluctuations explain more than 50% of changes in zooplankton abundances.
Keywords: Environmental factors; Eutrophic conditions; Ghar El Melh Lagoon; Seasonal distribution; Zooplankton.
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