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Life cycle and reproductive phenology of Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande in a southern Mediterranean shallow system


Along Mediterranean coasts, highly variable shallow systems with salinities higher than in marine environment, as saltworks basins or some marginal secondary shallow environments, are widespread; shallow waters function as a dynamic buffer system between open sea and land, and aquatic macrophytes represent key species regulating fluxes of energy and matter. In these systems Ruppia species are often the dominant macrophytes, and markedly colonise shallow habitats with extended beds. Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande, mainly found in permanent lagoons, plays a crucial role in Mediterranean hyper-haline shallow waters, being a very important primary contributor to many food webs. In the context of a two years study (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), carried out in the Natural Reserve of Trapani and Paceco (Western Sicily, 37°52’ N; 12°28’ E), life cycle and reproductive phenology of R. cirrhosa were investigated in eight cold ponds, also to verify whether and how they are affected by anthropic activities.