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Open AccessArticle

Plankton Taxonomic and Size Diversity of Mediterranean Brackish Ponds in Spring: Influence of Abiotic and Biotic Factors

1
Aquatic Ecology Group, University of Vic—Central University of Catalonia, Vic, 08500 Catalonia, Spain
2
Ecological Restoration Research Group, Environmental Sciences Institute (IUCA), Department of Agricultural and Envirnomental Sciences, Technological College, University of Zaragoza, 50009 Huesca, Spain
3
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, ICREA, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010106
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 29 December 2018 / Accepted: 30 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trophic Interactions in Warm Freshwater Ecosystems)
In this study, performed in Mediterranean brackish ponds during spring season, we assessed the effects of biotic interactions and abiotic factors on the size and taxonomic structure of the phytoplankton and zooplankton. We used a taxonomic and a size diversity index as a descriptor of the community structure. We predicted that the size diversity of each trophic level would be mainly related to biotic interactions, such as size-based fish predation (in the case of zooplankton) and food resource availability (in the case of phytoplankton), whereas taxonomic diversity would be more affected by abiotic variables (e.g., conductivity, pond morphology). Our results showed a negative relationship between phytoplankton size diversity and food resource availability leading to low size diversities under food scarcity due to dominance of small species. Conductivity also negatively affected the phytoplankton size diversity, although slightly. Regarding zooplankton size diversity, none of predictors tested seemed to influence this index. Similar fish size diversities among ponds may prevent a significant effect of fish predation on size diversity of zooplankton. As expected, taxonomic diversity of phytoplankton and zooplankton was related to abiotic variables (specifically pond morphometry) rather than biotic interactions, which are usually body size dependent, especially in these species-poor brackish environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: trophic interactions; phytoplankton; zooplankton; fish; pond morphometry; food resource availability trophic interactions; phytoplankton; zooplankton; fish; pond morphometry; food resource availability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sgarzi, S.; Badosa, A.; Leiva-Presa, À.; Benejam, L.; López-Flores, R.; Brucet, S. Plankton Taxonomic and Size Diversity of Mediterranean Brackish Ponds in Spring: Influence of Abiotic and Biotic Factors. Water 2019, 11, 106.

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