Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No S1 (2016)

Variability of mesozooplankton biomass and individual size in a coast-offshore transect in the Catalan Sea: relationships with chlorophyll a and hydrographic features

Miquel Alcaraz
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Albert Calbet
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Stamatina Isari
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC - King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Spain

Xabier Irigoien
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Isabel Trepat
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Enric Saiz
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain


The temporal and spatial changes of zooplankton and chlorophyll a concentration were studied during the warm stratification period (early June) at three stations whose traits corresponded to the coastal, frontal, and offshore-dome water conditions described for the Catalan Sea. We sampled the stations for 12 days at a frequency ranging from less than 10 to 102 h, with a spatial resolution ranging from 10 to 104 m. The objective was to determine the variability of mesozooplankton and phytoplankton (chlorophyll a) biomass, and average individual size (mass) across a coast-offshore transect in relation to the stratification conditions prevailing in the NW Mediterranean during summer. The vertical distribution of phytoplankton biomass displayed a clear deep maximum at 60 m depth except at the coastal station. This maximum exists during most of the year and is especially important during the density stratification period. It was accompanied during daylight hours by a coherent zooplankton maximum. At sunset mesozooplankton ascended and dispersed, with larger organisms from deeper layers joining the migrating community and increasing the average individual mass. The highest variability of mesozooplankton biomass, individual mass and chlorophyll a concentration occurred at the front station due to the coupling between the vertical migration of zooplankton and the particular characteristics of the front. According to the data shown, the highest variability was observed at the lowest scales.


zooplankton biomass; NW Mediterranean; spatial distribution; short-term variability

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