Processos espacio-temporals que expliquen les agregacions de salpes i el seu paper en el mar català, Nord-Oest del Mediterrani.

Supervised by:
  1. Verónica Fuentes Director
  2. José Luis Acuña Fernández Co-director

Defence university: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

Fecha de defensa: 28 September 2016

  1. Francesc Maynou Hernández Chair
  2. Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla Conejo Secretary
  3. Evgeny Pakhomov Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 140167 DIALNET


Salps are marine pelagic tunicates that have evolved opportunistic skills to bloom under favorable conditions and persist during adverse periods. They experience population outbursts (blooms) which, combined with their efficient feeding mechanism, produce several ecological and societal consequences. Although salp blooms are common in the Catalan Sea during spring and autumn, their causes and effects on the ecosystem have never been studied in this area before. The general aim of the present thesis is to understand the spatial and temporal processes leading to salp blooms and estimate their trophic impact in the Catalan Sea, northwestern Mediterranean Sea. For this purpose, mechanistic (matrix models) and statistical models (GAMs) combined with in situ observations allowed us to propose the simplest mechanisms to account for bloom development. We found that changes in female reproduction drive the population to latency under unfavorable conditions and trigger the bloom when conditions improve (Chapter 1). From a spatial scale, hydrodynamic factors mainly drove high local salp abundances, although biological variables (predator abundance) had secondary importance (Chapter 2). We observed the coexistence of contrasting diel vertical migration (DVM) patterns in a salp (nocturnal and diurnal migrations), which explains controversial conclusions in previous studies, but brings new questions about the drivers of DVM in salps (Chapter 3). The two species found produced contrasting trophic impacts: Thalia democratica was less abundant and its effect on the ecosystem seemed to be negligible while, Salpa fusiformis ingested a maximum of 69.92 mg C m-2 day-1 and defecated 35.76 mg C m-2 day-1, contributing to the transport of organic matter to the deep ocean (Chapter 2). Our findings contribute to general knowledge in salp ecology. They lead us to consider evolutionary demographic studies to understand the potential benefits of their life cycle as an adaptation to environmental change and the mechanisms which maintain genetic variability after bloom-latency periods.