Recent advances in the Mediterranean researches on zooplankton: from spatial–temporal patterns of distribution to processes oriented studies

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Serena Fonda Umani *
Marina Monti
Roberta Minutoli
Letterio Guglielmo
(*) Corresponding Author:
Serena Fonda Umani | s.fonda@units.it

Abstract

In this review we focus on research performed by Italian scientists on pelagic communities, from microzooplankton to micronekton, mainly in the Italian Seas. We considered published data, mostly as grey literature, and unpublished ones. Firstly we describe data collected over a time span of more than 30 years, during several cruises all around the Italian peninsula on zooplankton composition and distribution. We identified rare vs. common species, which enhanced biodiversity of the pelagic ecosystem. Time series, some also very long, allowed us to describe seasonal recurrent patterns, interannual fluctuations and recent shifts driven by climatic changes. More recently Italian researches were processes oriented and we analyzed results obtained on the impact of predation of both micro- and mesozooplankton on both autotrophic and heterotrophic preys. Carbon fluxes through zooplankton components were variable in space and time, but accounted for important phytoplankton losses, and when this resource became scarce they relied on heterotrophic production. Through respiration measurements of mesozooplankton another aspect of the C flux was estimated showing an increase in C demand in the most oligotrophic area. Egg production by copepods appeared to be mostly controlled by temperature and quantity/quality of available food.

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