The changes in the plankton biomass structure in relation to nutrient inputs were studied in the Gulf of Venice (Northern Adriatic Sea), an area characterized by a very marked trophic state variability. The investigation was carried out at two stations, in March, May and July 2005 and 2006, considering the whole water column. The size structure (from picoplankton to mesozooplankton) of both autotrophs and heterotrophs was analysed. Signals of diluted waters and nutrient inputs were more marked in 2005 than in 2006. In 2005, the total plankton biomass was almost double (87 ± 37 μg·C·l−1) that in 2006 (44 ± 26 μg·C·l−1). The variations were determined mainly by phytoplankton, with a 70% decrease, and a shift from a community dominated by microphytoplankton (49 ± 12%) in 2005 to one dominated by bacteria (43 ± 11%) in 2006 was observed. The relationship between the heterotrophic (H) and autotrophic (A) biomass indicated a rapid decline of the H/A ratio with increasing phytoplankton biomass. This study, although temporally limited, is consistent with the results reported for other marine environments and it seems to confirm the importance of nutrient inputs in structuring the biomass of plankton community.
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