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Seasonal distribution of ultraphytoplankton and heterotrophic prokaryotes in relation to abiotic variables on the north coast of Sfax after restoration

June 23, 2014

The Taparura project was set up to restore the north Sfax coast (Tunisia) by shutting down the northern phosphate plant responsible for chronic pollution and uncontrolled phosphogypsum dumping. The restoration effect on coastal ultraphytoplankton (<10 μm) and heterotrophic prokaryotes was investigated using conventional flow cytometry over four successive seasons during 2009–2010. Cell concentrations were generally higher than values reported for the open sea, both in the western and eastern Mediterranean basins. One striking point was that chl a concentration on the north Sfax coast was unchanged after restoration but was still one order of magnitude higher than in the Gulf of Gabès. Restoration of pH, following the shutdown of the phosphate processing plants on the north coast, appeared to reach normal levels for seawater during the study, whereas seawater acidification persisted on the south coast where plants are still in operation. The largest ultraphytoplankton biomass was from an unknown cell group, whose identity and role needs to be established.

Rekik A, Denis M, Dugenne M, Barani A, Maalej S, Ayadi H, 2014: Seasonal distribution of ultraphytoplankton and heterotrophic prokaryotes in relation to abiotic variables on the north coast of Sfax after restoration, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 84(1-2), 280-305, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.05.003. Article (subscription required).

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