1. Longitudinal gradients in the epilimnetic waters of stratified reservoirs provide a useful database to study changing environmental conditions. The spatial distribution, assemblage structure and specific adaptations of phytoplankton assemblages can be analysed along these gradients over short time scales.2. Four reservoirs with a similar typology, located along an altitudinal gradient in the same eco-region, were sampled along their longitudinal axes. In total, 19 sampling stations provided a trophic spectrum, ranging from oligo-mesotrophy to hypertrophy, which was quantified by calculating the trophic state index of each sampling station in the four reservoirs.3. Several patterns in phytoplankton assemblage structure were detected. Total chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), biovolume, abundance and the relative biomass contribution of the main algal groups (chlorophytes, cyanobacteria, cryptophytes and diatoms) werehighly correlated with their location along the trophic gradient.4. We also adopted the functional classification of Reynolds et al. (2002): this effectively summarized differences among phytoplankton assemblages under varying resource limiting combinations, especially nutrients and underwater light climate.5. In terms of relationships with the trophic gradient, diatoms and cyanobacteriaexhibited significant opposing trends in both their relative chlorophyll contribution to total Chl-a and biovolume. Chlorophytes were more abundant at an intermediate position along the trophic spectrum.6. The identified patterns are consistent with models of self-organization of phytoplankton assemblages. In particular, light availability was a strong determinant of size and shape diversity, especially in hypertrophic conditions, where ‘R-strategist’, needle shaped species, dominated the system. In contrast, under decreased availability of nutrients and higher light extinction coefficients (Kd), the system was co-dominated by C- and S-strategist species, having shapes with a higher surface/volume ratio.
|Numero di pagine||14|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2008|
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