Current state and long-term changes in the mesozooplankton community of the Ukrainian and Georgian parts of the Black Sea as indicators of its ecological status

  • Y. V. Kharytonova Institute of Marine Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • M. V. Nabokin Ukrainian Scientific Center of Ecology of the Sea
  • M. M. Mgeladze Fisheries, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity Department of National Environmental Agency
  • P. A. Vadachkoria Fisheries, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity Department of National Environmental Agency
  • V. G. Dyadichko Institute of Marine Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: monitoring of marine water; zooplankton integrated index; water quality; ecological quality class; Copepoda; Cladocera.


Water quality assessment is a key task of any measures in the field of water use, environmental management and protection. Thus, it is necessary to conduct systematic monitoring to assess the ecological state in the marine waters and to develop a strategy for its recovery. Anthropogenic impacts of various types leading to eutrophication and pollution of the Black Sea are changing the main characteristics of all components of the aquatic ecosystem. Zooplankton plays a key role in the pelagic food web. This article presents the results of the research on the state of zooplankton which was conducted during the Ukrainian-Georgian expedition in the framework of the international project “Emblas-plus” during 2016, 2017 and 2019. The ecological quality class of the investigated Black Sea waters was determined by the zooplankton integrated index (IZI). In Ukrainian waters in total, 49 taxa of zooplankton were registered. In 2017 taxonomic composition of zooplankton was more diverse (36 taxa in 2016, 35 in 2019). In Georgian waters in 2019, 40 taxa of mesozooplankton were registered, most of them are widespread forms in the Black Sea. The most diverse group is Crustacea (Cladocera and Copepoda).The most prevalent crustaceans were the eurythermic species, an important representative of forage zooplankton – Acartia (Acartiura) clausi Giesbrecht, 1889 and two thermophilic species of Calanoida – Acartia (Acanthacartia) tonsa Dana, 1849 and Centropages ponticus Karavaev, 1895. In Ukrainian waters average abundance and biomass of zooplankton in 2019 was similar to those in 2016 and much higher than in 2017. Dominant taxa and spatial distribution of zooplankton in 2019 were similar to those in 2016 and 2017. Average biomass of forage zooplankton in 2019 was approximately 10 times higher than in 2016 and 2017. In the Georgian coastal waters annual average abundance and biomass of mesozooplankton decreased, due to a sharp decline in the abundance of Noctiluca scintillans (Macartney) Kofoid & Swezy, 1921. It was found that at most of the stations the dominant role in the formation of zooplankton biomass was played by the organisms of forage zooplankton. By the IZI index, the subdivision Northwestern Black Sea Bays had “Good”, “Poor” and “Moderate” water quality in spring, summer and autumn respectively. The subdivision’s deepwater shelf and shallow shelf had “Bad” water quality. The subdivision Danube-Dnieper interfluve coastal waters had “High” water quality. The Danube Avandelta area had “High”, “Good” and “High” water quality in spring, summer and autumn respectively. The best ecological class status was in 2019 and the worst – in 2016. The main tendencies in changes in the mesozooplankton community in the Black Sea are decrease in the percentage of N. scintillans in the total zooplankton biomass and increase in the percentage of Copepoda. Those tendencies indicate decrease in the pressure of the negative eutrophication factor and show positive changes in the forage base of commercial planktophagous fish and the ecological status of the Black Sea waters.


Aleksandrov, B. G., & Zaitsev, Y. P. (1998). Black sea biodiversity in eutrophication conditions. In: Kotlyakov, V., Uppenbrink, M., & Metreveli, V. (Ed.). Conservation of the biological diversity as a prerequisite for sustainable development in the Black sea region. Nato Science Partnership Subseries, 46, 221–234.

Aleksndrov, B. G., Vorobeva, L. V., Kulakova, I. I., & Sinegub, I. A. (2017). Odesskiy region Chernogo morya: Gidrobiologiya pelagiali i bentali [Odessa region of the Black Sea: Hydrobiology of pelagials and benthals]. Astroprint, Odessa (in Russian).

Alexandrov, B., Minicheva, G., & Zaitsev, Y. (2017). European approaches and adaptation to expansion and monitoring in Ukraine. In: Goriup, P. D. (Ed.). Black Sea network of marine protected areas. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester. Pp. 227–246.

Alexandrova, V., Moncheva, S., Slabakova, N., Stefanova, K., & Doncheva, V. (2007). Application of biotic indices and body size descriptors of phyto- and zooplankton communities in Varna lagoon for ecological status assessment. Transitional Waters Bulletin, 3, 17–21.

Alpenidze, M., Diasamidze, R., Kordzakhia, G., Jomidava, R., & Tsitskishvili, M. (2013). Complex investigation of ecological state of the Black sea and actions for its protection. In: Veziroğlu, A., & Tsitskishvil, M. (Ed.). Black sea energy resource development and hydrogen energy problems. NATO science for peace and security series, environmental security. Springer, Dordrecht. Pp. 1–7.

Arashkevich, E. G., Stefanova, K., Bandelj, V., Siokou, I., Terbiyik, K. T., Ak Orek, Y., Timofte, F., Timonin, A., & Solidoro, C. (2014). Mesozooplankton in the open Black sea: Regional and seasonal characteristics. Journal of Marine Systems, 135, 81–96.

Atkins, J. P., Burdon, D., Elliott, M., & Gregory, A. J. (2011). Management of the marine environment: Integrating ecosystem services and societal benefits with the DPSIR framework in a systems approach. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62, 215–226.

Bat, L., Gökkurt, O., Sezgin, M., Üstün, F., & Sahin, F. (2009). Evaluation of the Black Sea land based sources of pollution the coastal region of Turkey. The Open Marine Biology Journal, 3, 112–124.

Borja, А., Galparsoro, I., Solaun, O., Muxika, I., Tello, E. M., Uriarte, A., & Valencia, V. (2006). The European Water Framework Directive and the DPSIR, a methodological approach to assess the risk failing to achieve good ecological status. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 66, 84–96.

Fashchuk, D. Y. (2011). Gas production on the North-Western shelf of the Black Sea: Scales, geographic and ecological conditions, consequences and their forecast. In: Fashchuk, D. Y. (Ed.). Marine ecological geography. Environmental science and engineering. Springer, Heidelberg. Pp. 237–316.

Gordina, A. D., Pavlova, E. V., Ovsyany, E. I., Wilson, J. G., Kemp, R. B., & Romanov, A. S. (2001). Long-term changes in Sevastopol Bay (the Black Sea) with particular reference to the ichthyoplankton and zooplankton. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 53(1), 1–13.

Grishin, A. N., & Shlyakhov, V. A. (2012). Effect of modern changes in the pelagial of the Black Sea on the state of fishery. Ichthyology, 52, 613–618.

Isinibilir, M., Hubareva, E., & Svetlichny, L. (2014). Interpopulation dynamics between Acartia clause (Copepoda) and Noctiluca scintillans (Dinoflagellata) in the Bosphorus area of the Black and the Marmara Seas. Italian Journal of Zoology, 81(3), 451–456.

Jeppesen, E., Noges, P., Davidson, T. A., Haberman, J., Noges, T., Blank, K., Lauridsen, T. L., Søndergaard, M., Sayer, C., Laugaste, R., Johansson, L. S., Bjerring, R., & Amsinck, S. L. (2011). Zooplankton as indicators in lakes: A scientific-based plea for including zooplankton in the ecological quality assessment of lakes according to the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Hydrobiologia, 676, 279–297.

Kazanci, N., Ekingen, P., Turkmen, G., Ertunv, O., Dugel, M., & Gultutan, Y. (2010). Assessment of ecological quality of Aksu Stream (Giresun, Turkey) in Eastern Black Sea region by using Water Framework Directive (WFD) methods based on benthic macroinvertebrates. Review of Hydrobiology Research Article, 3(2), 165–184.

Kharytonova, J. V. (2019). Analiz perekhidnykh vod Ukrainskoho shelfu Chornoho moria za pokaznykamy zooplanktonu (na prykladi delty Dunaiu) [Analysis of transition waters of the Ukranian Black sea shelf by zooplankton indicators (on example of the Danube Delta)]. Visnik of the Odessa National University, Seriya Biology, 45, 88–96 (in Ukrainian).

Kharytonova, Y. V., & Nabokin, M. V. (2020). Zooplankton of the North-Western part of the Black Sea in 2016–2019 and assessment of the quality of the environment by its indicators. In: Kempinsk, U., Henryk, S., Vozhehova, R. (Eds.). Scientific Developments of Ukraine and EU in the Area of Natural Sciences. Baltija Publishing, Riga. 685–700.

Kharytonova, Y. V., Nabokin, M. V., & Dyadychko, V. G. (2020). Zooplankton vidkrytoi chastyny Chornoho moria v 2016–2019 rr. ta otsinka yakosti vodnoho seredovyshcha za yoho pokaznykamy [Zooplankton of the open part of the Black Sea in 2016–2019 and assessment of the quality of the aquatic environment-according to its indicators]. Ecological Sciences, 29, 87–94 (in Ukrainian).

Korotaev, G. K. (2009). Black Sea forecasting system: Current state and prospect. In: Groisman, P. Y., & Ivanov, S. V. (Ed.). Regional aspects of climate-terrestrial-hydrologic interactions in non-boreal Eastern Europe. NATO science for peace and security, environmental security. Springer, Dordrecht. Pp. 233–243.

Koval, L. G. (1984). Zoo- i makrozooplankton Chernogo morya [Zoo- and macrozooplankton of the Black Sea]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev (in Russian).

Kovalev, A., Mazzocchi, M., Siokou, I., & Kidets, A. (2001). Zooplankton of the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean: Similarities and dissimilarities. Mediterranean Marine Science, 2(1), 69–78.

Kovalev, A., Niermann, U., Melnikov, V., Belokopitov, V., Uysal, Z., Kideys, A. E., Unsal, M., & Altukhov, D. (1998). Long-term changes in the Black Sea zooplankton: The role of natural and anthropogenic factors. In: Ivanov, L., & Oguz, T. (Ed.). Ecosystem modelling as a management tool for the Black Sea. Kluwer Academicals Publishing. Pp. 221–235.

Loeva, I. D., Pavlenko, M. Yu., Orlova, I. G., & Komorin, V. M. (2008). Polityka Ukrainy z okhorony pryrodnoho seredovyshcha Chornoho moria [Ukraine's policy on environmental protection of the Black Sea]. Black Sea Ecological Bulletin, 30, 7–13 (in Ukrainian).

Matishov, G. G., Matishov, D. G., & Stepan’yan, O. V. (2014). Assessment of the modern state of the Black Sea ecosystem (Republic of Abkhazia). Doklady Earth Sciences, 454, 213–217.

Micheli, F., Halpern, S., Walbridge, S., Ciriaco, S., Ferretti, F., & Fraschetti, S. (2013). Cumulative human impacts on Mediterranean and Black Sea marine ecosystems: Assessing current pressures and opportunities. PLoS One, 8(12), 79889.

Moncheva, S., Dontcheva, V., Shtereva, G., Kamburska, L., Malej, A., & Gorinstein, S. (2002). Application of eutrophication indices for assessment of the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal ecosystem ecological quality. Water Science Technology, 46(8), 19–28.

Moncheva, S., Racheva, E., Kamburska, L., & D'Hernoncourt, J. (2012). Environmental and management constraints on tourism in Varna Bay, Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Ecology and Society 17(3), 35.

Mordukhai-Boltovsky, F. D. (1968). Opredelitel’ fauny Chernogo i Azovskogo morey: Svobodnozhivuschie bespozvonochnyie. Prosteyshie, gubki, kishechnopolostnyie, chervi, schupaltsevyie [Key to the fauna of the Black and Azov seas: Free-living invertebrates. Protozoa, sponges, coelenterates, worms, tentacles]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev (in Russian).

Mordukhai-Boltovsky, F. D. (1969). Opredelitel’ fauny Chernogo i Azovskogo morey: Svobodnozhivuschie bespozvonochnyie. Rakoobraznye [Key to the fauna of the Black and Azov seas: Free-living invertebrates. Crustaceans]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev (in Russian).

Mordukhai-Boltovsky, F. D. (1972). Opredelitel’ fauny Chernogo i Azovskogo morey: Svobodnozhivuschie bespozvonochnyie. Chlenistonogie (krome rakobraznyih), molyuski, iglokozhie, schetinkochelyustnyie, hordovyie [Key to the fauna of the Black and Azov seas. Free-living invertebrates. Arthropods (except crustaceans), molluscs, echinoderms, chaetae, chordates]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev (in Russian).

Mutlu, E. (2001). Distribution and abundance of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) and its zooplankton food in the Black Sea. Marine Biology, 138, 329–339.

Nawata, T., & Sibaoka, T. (1983). Experimental induction of feeding behavior in Noctiluca miliaris. Protoplasma, 115, 34–42.

Nikishina, A. B., Drits, A. V., & Vasilyeva, Y. V. (2011). Role of the Noctiluca scintillans population in the trophic dynamics of the Black Sea plankton over the spring period. Oceanology, 51, 1029–1039.

O’Higgins, T., Farmer, A., Daskalov, G., Knudsen, S., & Mee, L. (2014). Achieving good environmental status in the Black Sea: Scale mismatches in environmental management. Ecology and Society, 19(3), 1–54.

Osadchiev, A., & Korshenko, E. (2017). Small river plumes off the northeastern coast of the Black Sea under average climatic and flooding discharge conditions, Ocean Science, 13, 465–482.

Ozdemir, G., & Ak, O. (2012). The qualitative and quantitative distribution of the zooplankton in the Southeastern Black Sea (Trabzon coast). Mediterranean Environment, 18(3), 279–298.

Öztürk, M., Özdemir, F., & Yücel, E. (1997). An overview of the environmental issues in the Black Sea region. In: Glantz, M. H., & Zonn, I. S. (Ed.). Scientific, environmental, and political issues in the Circum-Caspian region. NATO ASI Series. Springer, Dordrecht. 29, 213–226.

Pokazeev, K., Sovga, E., & Chaplina, T. (2021). Main natural and anthropogenic sources of pollution of the Black Sea, its shelf zones and small water reservoirs. In: Pokazeev, K., Sovga, E., Chaplina, T. (Eds.). Pollution in the Black Sea. Springer, Cham. Pp. 97–141.

Polischuk, L. N., & Nastenko, E. V. (2006). Mezo- i makrozooplankton [Mezo- i makrozooplankton]. In: Zaitsev, Y. P., Aleksandrov, B. G., & Minicheva, G. G. (Ed.). North-western part of the Black Sea: Biology and ecology. Naukova Dumka, Kiev. Pp. 229–237 (in Russian).

Robu, B., Jitar, O., Teodosiu, C., Strungaru, S., Nicoara, M., & Plavan, G. (2015). Environmental impact and risk assessment of the main pollution sourses from the Romanian Black Sea coast. Environmental Engineering and Management Journal, 14(2), 331–340.

Rudneva, I., & Petzold-Bradley, E. (2001). Environment and security challenges in the Black Sea region. In: Petzold-Bradley, E., Carius, A., & Vincze, A. (Ed.). Responding to environmental conflicts: Implications for theory and practice. NATO Science. Springer, Dordrecht. 78, 189–207.

Salazkin, A. A., Ivanova, M. B., & Ogorodnikova, V. A. (1984). Metodicheskie rekomendatsii po sboru i obrabotke materialov pri gidrobiologicheskih issledovaniyah. Zooplankton i ego produktsiya [Methodological recommendations for the collection and processing of materials in hydrobiological research. Zooplankton and its products]. National Research Institute of Lake and River Fisheries, Leningrad (in Russian).

Selifonova, Z. P. (2009). Oithona brevicornis Giesbrecht (Copepoda, Cyclopoida) in harborages of the northeastern part of the Black Sea shelf. Inland Water Biology, 2, 30–32.

Snigirov, S., Lyumkis, P., Medinets, V., Gazyetov, Y., Snigirov, P., Medinets, S., Abakumov, O., Pitsyk, V., Svitlychnyi, S., Kovalova, N., & Soltys, I. (2018). Izuchenie mezozooplanktona Odesskogo zaliva v 2016–2017 gg. [Mesozooplankton study in Odessa Bay in 2016–2017]. Bulletin of Karazin Kharkiv National University, Series Ecology, 19, 39–55 (in Russian).

Stel’makh, L. V., Babich, I. I., & Tugrul, S. (2009). Phytoplankton growth rate and zooplankton grazing in the western part of the Black Sea in the autumn period. Oceanology, 49, 83–92.

Vinogradov, A. K., Bogatova, Y. I., & Synegub, I. A. (2018). Pelagic zone subsystem of the marine ports aquatories. In: Vinogradov, A. K., Bogatova, Yu. I., Synegub, I. A. (Eds.). Ecology of marine ports of the Black and Azov Sea basin. Springer, Cham. Pp. 39–172.

Vinogradov, M. E., Lebedeva, L. P., & Lukasheva, T. A. (2006). Condition of coastal mesoplankton communities in the northeastern area of the Black Sea in 2005. Oceanology, 46, 817–826.

Zaitsev, Y. P. (1992). Recent changes in the trophic structure of the Black Sea. Fisheries Oceanography, 1(2), 180–189.

Zaitsev, Y. P. (1993). Impact of eutrophication on the Black Sea fauna, studies and reviews. General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean, 64, 63–86.

Zaitsev, Y. P., & Alexandrov, B. G. (1997). Recent man-made changes in the Black Sea. In: Ozsoy, E., & Mikaelyan, A. (Ed.). Ecosystem sensitivity to change: Black Sea, Baltic Sea and North Sea. Nato Science Partnership Subseries. Springer, Dordrecht. Vol. 27, 25–31.