A case study on the application of the MSFD to Mediterranean coastal systems: the Po plume, as a transitional water system in the Northern Adriatic basin


1 - In the frame of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) of the European Community, in order to assess the Good Environmental Status (GES) of the marine coastal and estuarine waters, the eutrophication descriptors include several aspects of the phytoplankton communities (such as composition, abundance and biomass).
2 - Two oceanographic campaigns were carried out in the area off the Po River plume, where a highly dynamic frontal zone separates an inshore and an offshore system. The coupling of size structure and diagnostic pigments of phytoplankton communities in relation to different environmental contexts are tested as an expedite and informative tool to assess water quality sensu MSFD.
3 - The Po plume creates a very dynamic frontal zone, resulting in strong trophic gradients within a relatively small area.
4 - The spatio-temporal variability of salinity in coastal waters and in transitional waters plays a pivotal role in structuring phytoplankton communities.
5 - The dynamics of forcing factors drive changes in cell-size structure, in the functional group composition as well as a shift in size within the same functional group.
6 - The combination of phytoplankton size-structure and chemotaxonomic compositions is proposed as an expedite tool for investigating, at the appropriate scales, the ecology of transitional water systems.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv7n2p175

Keywords: Phytoplankton size-fractions; HPLC pigments; Chemotaxonomical composition; Photosynthetic parameters; Northern Adriatic Sea; Transitional waters

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