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Trajectoires d’évolution des communautés phytoplanctoniques au cours du processus de restauration écologique des milieux lagunaires méditerranéens

Abstract : Located at the interface between marine and continental systems, coastal lagoons are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems. These semi-enclosed ecosystems are very vulnerable to nutrient enrichment. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region, anthropogenic pressures have profoundly damaged the coastal lagoons, especially those belonging to the Palavasian complex close to Montpellier. The latter lagoons have been affected by high nutrient loadings from the sewage treatment plant of the Montpellier agglomeration. This resulted in a trophic gradient among the eight lagoons in the complex, from mesotrophy to hypertrophy, with altered primary producer communities by favoring the predominance of the phytoplankton compartment.The phytoplankton responds very fast to environmental variability. The high specific and functional diversity of the phytoplankton carries information regarding the different ecological processes and ecosystem functioning. Hence, phytoplankton has been widely used as an efficient indicator of aquatic ecosystems functioning.In December 2005, the effluents responsible of the eutrophication of the Palavasian lagoons were diverted into the Mediterranean Sea. This measure resulted in a reduction of the inorganic phosphorous and nitrogen loadings to the lagoons from 70 to 83 %, respectively, and initiated a process of ecological restoration. This thesis aimed to improve the understanding of the restoration process of Mediterranean coastal lagoons by studying phytoplankton communities’ trajectories.The analysis of a database comprising fourteen years of observations from 2000 to 2013 established that the restoration of coastal lagoons gave rise to an improvement of the water quality, linked to a drastic reduction of phytoplankton biomass. The time series showed a sharp drop of the Diatoms (3-5 µm), which before the diversion had been particularly enhanced by the nutrient inputs from the effluents. The analysis of phytoplankton trajectories since the nutrient inputs reduction showed a modification of phytoplankton community composition characterized by an increase of the abundances of Green algae and Dinophytes. This modification reflects the change of the origin and the form of available nutrients caused by the re-oligotrophication. It especially emphasizes the importance of benthic fluxes of phosphate and ammonium, for which Green algae are the most competitive. In addition, the benthic stocks of organic matter may represent a resource for mixotrophic species. Picophytoplankton, which was exclusively dominant in the Palavasian lagoons before the diversion, is now temporarily replaced by nano- and microphytoplankton during seasonal blooms. This is related to their specific strategies to acquire and use nutrients. The seasonal variability of taxonomic and functional phytoplankton diversity (cell size, trophic regime, growth) of two lagoons from the Palavasian complex with contrasted trophic status was studied in more detail, and compared to that of an oligotrophic lagoon. This study showed some particularities of the phytoplankton communities to fit to distinct ecosystem functioning, which can be linked to the degradation caused by eutrophication. The restoration is still unfinished today. The phytoplankton biomass increases since 2012 in response to suitable climatic conditions. The phytoplankton of the Palavasian lagoons still quickly responds to a nutrient pulse, highlighting the lagoon vulnerability to an anthropogenic nutrient input.
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Amandine Leruste. Trajectoires d’évolution des communautés phytoplanctoniques au cours du processus de restauration écologique des milieux lagunaires méditerranéens. Biodiversité et Ecologie. Université Montpellier, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016MONTT143⟩. ⟨tel-01661492⟩

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