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Spatio-Temporal Variability in Water Chemistry of Mediterranean Coastal Lagoons and its Management Implications

Abstract

Temporal variability is widely acknowledged as a main source of uncertainty and error in ecological studies. Despite this, conservation management tends to overlook the temporal dimension of ecosystems due to financial and operational constraints. The main aim of this study is to identify potential biases in the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive due to temporal variability in water-chemistry parameters. Specifically, we focused on the establishment of water-bodies typologies and the assessment of water quality in transitional waters. We measured water-chemistry (salinity and nutrients) in 34 coastal lagoons on a monthly basis over a full year (March’08–February’09) in a Mediterranean archipelago (Balearic Islands, Spain). We found large differences in nutrient levels among both the coastal lagoons of different islands (Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera) and lagoons of different salinity types (euhaline, mesohaline and oligohaline). From an applied perspective, our results show that monthly values were inadequate for determining salinity-based typologies, as lagoon salinity values varied widely from month-to-month. Additionally, we found a lack of agreement between ecological assessments based on invertebrates and those based on nutrient thresholds often used for transitional waters. These facts highlight the need for a definition of specific thresholds for coastal lagoons which are not currently available.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to M. Domínguez and B. Hermida-Andrade for helping us with laboratory work and assistance during field sampling, respectively. Especial thanks to Aaron Adamack and Anna Hutchens for checking the English language and their useful comments. Thanks to guards from the Government of the Balearic Islands for water samples collecting. This research was supported by the Regional Government of the Balearic Islands (Dirección General de Recursos Hídricos), through the project titled “Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the Balearic Islands: evaluation of the environmental quality of the surface waters using biological indicators” (P.P. 0022 122P 6480201). Fund to P. Lucena-Moya was provided by a PhD fellowship from the University of Vigo (P.P.00VI 131H 64103). We wish to thank two anonymous referees and the editor whose constructive comments strengthened the results provided in this paper.

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Correspondence to Paloma Lucena-Moya.

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Lucena-Moya, P., Gómez-Rodríguez, C. & Pardo, I. Spatio-Temporal Variability in Water Chemistry of Mediterranean Coastal Lagoons and its Management Implications. Wetlands 32, 1033–1045 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-012-0334-4

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Keywords

  • Transitional waters
  • Nutrient concentrations
  • Salinity
  • Typology
  • Ecological status assessments
  • Water framework directive
  • Balearic Islands