Biodiversity and seasonal variations of zooneuston in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea

France Collard, Amandine Collignon, Jean-Henri Hecq, Loïc N. Michel, Anne Goffart


Neuston includes animals and plants inhabiting the surface layer of the water column. The neustonic area is an accumulation zone for bacteria, organic molecules but also terrestrial debris. The surface layer is also the air/water exchange region. Therefore, neustonic organisms are directly exposed to several constraints such as wind stress and turbulence. The present study aims to characterize the zooneuston in terms of abundance and biodiversity and to evaluate the impacts of wind stress on neustonic abundance. Zooneustonic and zooplanktonic (depth of 5 meters) samples were collected twice a month between 30th August 2011 and 10th July 2012 in Calvi Bay, Corsica. Zooneustonic biodiversity was high and, notably, twenty-eight copepod genera were identified. Among these copepods, several organisms, belonging to the Pontellidae family, were much more frequent in neuston than in underlying plankton and their abundance depended on wind direction. Taxon-specific trends in seasonal abundance variation were present. For example, individuals of the Acantharia Lithoptera spp. were found in summer whereas the Pontellidae Anomalocera patersoni appeared in winter. Overall, our data provide a first step towards a better knowledge of neuston community structure in the Mediterranean Sea.


neuston; Pontellidae; Mediterranean Sea; plankton; wind forcing

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