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Coastal inshore waters in the NW Mediterranean: Physicochemical and biological characterization and management implications

AuthorsFlo Arcas, Eva ; Garcés, Esther ; Manzanera, Marta; Camp, Jordi
KeywordsChlorophyll a
Coastal waters
Dissolved inorganic nutrients
Land use
Issue DateJul-2011
CitationEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 93 (4): 279-289 (2011)
AbstractThe physicochemical and biological characteristics of coastal waters form a gradient extending from land to ocean. In the Mediterranean this gradient is particularly large, due to the sea’s weak tides. Within coastal waters, those waters in contact with land are called coastal inshore waters (CIW), defined herein as between 0 and 200 m from the shoreline. Here we present the first physicochemical and biological characterization of CIW of the NW Mediterranean Sea. This case study is based on 19 years of data collected from coastal inshore (CIW; 0–200 m), nearshore (CNW; 200–1500 m), and offshore (COW; >1500 m) waters of the Catalan coast. Analyses of these data showed that the physicochemical and biological characteristics of CIW differ significantly from those of CNW and COW due to: (1) significantly higher concentrations of dissolved inorganic nutrients (nitrate = 11.07 μM, nitrite = 0.52 μM, ammonium = 6.43 μM, phosphate = 0.92 μM, silicates = 5.99 μM) and chlorophyll-a (=2.42 μg/L) in CIW than in either CNW or COW (in some cases up to one order of magnitude); (2) a greater variability of dissolved inorganic nutrients and chlorophyll-a in CIW than in CNW and COW, and (3) the presence of a mostly urban population and the effects of river inflows as a primary source of CIW variability but with minimal impact on CNW or COW. In addition, the risk of eutrophication was found to be highest in CIW, placing human and environmental interests at greater risk than in the outermost coastal waters. The results highlight the importance of considering the distinctive physicochemical and biological properties of CIW in future coastal waters studies. This is of major importance in assessments of eutrophication and coastal water quality, not only to identify the pressure–impact relationships but also to allow the timely detection of local environmental problems and thus avoid endangering the unique communities of CIW and ensuring the sustainability of human activities. In conclusion, CIW characterization is essential to integrate coastal zone management.
Description11 pages, 7 figures, 3 tables
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2011.04.002
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos
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