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Impact of the river nutrient load variability on the North Aegean ecosystem functioning over the last decades

December 3, 2013

The impact of river load variability on the North Aegean ecosystem functioning over the last decades (1980-2000) was investigated by means of a coupled hydrodynamic /biogeochemical model simulation. Model results were validated against available SeaWiFS Chl-a and in situ data. The simulated food web was found dominated by small cells, in agreement with observations, with most of the carbon channelled through the microbial loop. Diatoms and dinoflagellates presented a higher relative abundance in the more productive coastal areas. The increased phosphate river loads in the early 80’s resulted in nitrogen and silicate deficiency in coastal, river-influenced regions. Primary production presented a decreasing trend for most areas. During periods of increased phosphate/nitrate inputs, silicate deficiency resulted in a relative decrease of diatoms, triggering an increase of dinoflagellates. Such an increase was simulated in the late 90’s in the Thermaikos Gulf, in agreement with the observed increased occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms. Microzooplankton was found to closely follow the relative increase of dinoflagellates under higher nutrient availability, showing a faster response than mesozooplankton. Sensitivity simulations with varying nutrient river inputs revealed a linear response of net primary production and plankton biomass. A stronger effect of river inputs was simulated in the enclosed Thermaikos Gulf, in terms of productivity and plankton composition, showing a significant increase of dinoflagellates relative abundance under increased nutrient loads.

Tsiaras K P, Petihakis G, Kourafalou V H, Triantafyllou G, in press. Impact of the river nutrient load variability on the North Aegean ecosystem functioning over the last decades, Journal of Sea Research, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.seares.2013.11.007. Article.

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