A first synoptic and trans-domain overviewof plankton dynamics was conducted across the aquatic sites belonging to the Italian Long-Term Ecological Research Network (LTER-Italy). Based on published studies, checked and complemented with unpublished information, we investigated phytoplankton and zooplankton annual dynamics and long-term changes across domains: from the large subalpine lakes to mountain lakes and artificial lakes, from lagoons to marine coastal ecosystems. This study permitted identifying common and unique environmental drivers and ecological functional processes controlling seasonal and long-termtemporal course. The most relevant patterns of plankton seasonal succession were revealed, showing that the driving factors were nutrient availability, stratification regime, and freshwater inflow. Phytoplankton and mesozooplankton displayed a wide interannual variability at most sites. Unidirectional or linear long-term trends were rarely detected but all sites were impacted across the years by at least one, but in many case several major stressor(s): nutrient inputs, meteo-climatic variability at the local and regional scale, and direct human activities at specific sites. Different climatic and anthropic forcings frequently co-occurred, whereby the responses of plankton communities were the result of this environmental complexity. Overall, the LTER investigations are providing an unparalleled framework of knowledge to evaluate changes in the aquatic pelagic systems and management options.
Alberto Basset;Genuario Belmonte
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