MEPS 505:65-80 (2014)  -  DOI:

Hydrographic and biological components of the seascape structure the meroplankton community in a frontal system

Manuel Hidalgo1,*, Patricia Reglero1, Diego Álvarez-Berastegui2, Asvin P. Torres1, Itziar Álvarez3, José M. Rodriguez4, Aina Carbonell1, Nuria Zaragoza1, Ariadna Tor1, Raquel Goñi1, Sandra Mallol1, Rosa Balbín1, Francisco Alemany1

1Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Moll de Ponent s/n, 07015 Palma, Spain
2SOCIB—Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System. Parc Bit, Naorte, Bloc A 2-3, Palma, Spain
3IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Miquel Marqués 21, 07190 Esporles, Mallorca, Spain
4Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Gijón, Avda. Príncipe de Asturias 70Bis, 33212 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Studies investigating the environmental influence on the structure of meroplanktonic communities generally focus on fish larvae. To our knowledge, no study to date has combined information on other important groups of the meroplankton such as decapod crustaceans and cephalopods. Here, we investigate the spatiotemporal distribution of a summer meroplankton community in the upper water column of the Balearic Sea (Western Mediterranean). The study compares 2 contrasting years (2004 and 2005) in terms of hydrographic (i.e. thermal pattern, spatial structure of the oceanic front) and biological (i.e. origin and composition of phytoplankton) components of the pelagic seascape. Our results reveal that both year-specific drivers, such as salinity gradient, and common factors between years, such as chlorophyll concentration, influence the community structure. This resulted in a contrasting influence between years of hydrographic and biological components of the seascape, which implies an alternating effect of dispersal pathways and retention to coupling productive conditions. The study characterizes recurrent environmental scenarios associated with different co-occurring fish and decapod crustacean larvae (i.e. mixed assemblages), the most relevant being: (1) recent Atlantic waters of low salinity, (2) resident waters of higher salinity, and (3) high chlorophyll concentration at depth of chlorophyll maximum. This study sheds new light on the complex responses of plankton communities to exogenous drivers in highly variable environments such as frontal systems.

KEY WORDS: Pelagic seascape · Environmental gradients · Meroplankton community structure · Oceanic fronts · Ichthyoplankton · Decapod crustacean larvae · Western Mediterranean · Larvae coexistence

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Cite this article as: Hidalgo M, Reglero P, Álvarez-Berastegui D, Torres AP and others (2014) Hydrographic and biological components of the seascape structure the meroplankton community in a frontal system. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 505:65-80.

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