Communities structure of the planktonic halophiles in the solar saltern of Sfax, Tunisia

Abstract : The composition and distribution of the main planktonic halophilic micro-organisms (heterotrophic and autotrophic picoplankton, nanoplankton, phytoplankton, ciliates) and metazooplankton were investigated in six ponds of increasing salinity in the solar salt works of Sfax, Tunisia, from January to December 2003. Marked changes in the composition and biomass of the communities were found along the salinity gradient, especially at salinities of 150 and 350. Autotrophic picoplankton, nanoplankton, diatoms, dinoflagellates and ciliates characterized the less salted ponds. Planktonic biomass was the highest at intermediate salinity as a consequence of a bloom of Ochromonas. Species richness of phytoplankton, ciliates and zooplankton greatly decrease above a salinity of 150 and typical halophiles (Dunaliella salina, cyanobacteria, Fabrea salina and Artemia salina) were found between 150 and 350 salinity. In this environment, F. salina appeared more adapted than the brine shrimp to survive during phytoplankton blooms. The halophilic plankton was however almost entirely composed of heterotrophic prokaryotes in the crystallizers. We thus observed a progressive disappearance of the autotrophic planktonic communities along the salinity gradient. Multivariate analysis of the communities provides evidence that ponds represent discrete aquatic ecosystems within this salt works.
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Contributor : Jean-François Carrias <>
Submitted on : Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 10:11:30 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 11:37:14 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-00526256, version 1


Jannet Elloumi, Jean-François Carrias, Habib Ayadi, Télesphore Sime-Ngando, Abderrahmen Bouaïn. Communities structure of the planktonic halophiles in the solar saltern of Sfax, Tunisia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2009, 81 (1), pp.19-26. ⟨hal-00526256⟩



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