Shifts between gelatinous and crustacean plankton in a coastal upwelling region

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Variability in the dominance of copepods vs. gelatinous plankton was analysed using monthly time-series covering the last 55 years and related to changes in climatic, oceanographic, and fishery conditions in the upwelling region of Galicia (NW Spain). Seasonality was generally the main component of variability in all groups, both along the coast and in the nearby ocean, but no common long-term trend was found. Coastal copepods increased since the early 1990s, and gelatinous plankton increased in the ocean during the 1980s. Different trends were found for gelatinous plankton in two coastal sites, characterized by increases in either medusae or tunicates. In all series, multiyear periods of relative dominance of gelatinous vs. copepod plankton were evident. In general, copepod periods were observed in positive phases of the main modes of regional climatic variability. Conversely, gelatinous periods occurred during negative climatic phases. However, the low correlations between gelatinous plankton and climatic, oceanographic, or fishery variables suggest that local factors play a major role in their proliferations.

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