Spatial and temporal variations of nutrients and chlorophyll a in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon: Varano lagoon, Italy


  1. The purpose of this paper is to assess the present status of a Mediterranean lagoon (Varano lagoon, Italy), basing on nutrient and chlorophyll a data.
  2. A water sampling in Varano lagoon was performed at 7 fixed stations from February 2004 to July 2005, collecting surface water samples to analyse ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and soluble reactive silica (SRSi), chlorophyll a (chl a) and total suspended solids (TSS). Spatial and temporal distributions of chemical and biological parameters in Varano lagoon were examined to accomplish the goal of this study. Statistical tests were used to investigate the correlations between analysed variables and to characterize, from a spatial and temporal point of view, the lagoon in relation to each variable.
  3. Ammonia and nitrate did not showed good correlation (P<0.05). SRP was not correlated with any nutrient (only with Chl a, P<0.05). The seasonal distribution show a random pattern for soluble reactive phosphorus with relatively low mean concentrations (0.16 ± 0.03 µM) and a well-defined seasonal pattern for nitrate, with the highest mean value (34.44 ± 10.18 µM) recorded in the wet season (February 2004) and a high spatial variability. The most homogeneous chl a values were observed in both autumn and winter seasons with averages of about 1-1.5 µg . L-1; in contrast, higher mean values (5.50 µg . L-1 ) were recorded in July 2005. The ratio between the dissolved inorganic nitrogen species and SRP (N/P) in Varano lagoon was constantly high and it varied seasonally from about 300:1 during rainy seasons to 60-90:1 during dry seasons. High values of the N/P ratio in autumn and winter were accompanied by an increase in total N implying an input of nitrogen to the system probably associated with rainfall.
  4. The high fluctuation in the various chemical parameters in the lagoon during the rainy season suggested that this is the period of large variability, in which environmental processes as marine waters, freshwaters and wastewaters represent inputs that determine the spatial behaviour of the system.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv2n4p49

Coastal ecosystems; Eutrophication; Mediterranean lagoon; Nutrients; Phytoplankton biomass; Varano lagoon

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