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Bottom-Up Control of Macrobenthic Communities in a Guanotrophic Coastal System

  • Autori: Signa, G.; Mazzola, A.; Costa, V.; Vizzini, S.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2015
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Soft bottom macrobenthic communities were studied seasonally in three coastal ponds (Marinello ponds, Italy) at increasing distances from a gull (Larus michahellis) colony to in- vestigate the effect of seabird-induced eutrophication (i.e. guanotrophication) on macro- benthic fauna.We hypothesized that enhanced nutrient concentration and organic load caused by guano input significantly alter the trophic and sedimentological condition of ponds, affecting benthic fauna through a bottom-up control. The influence of a set of envi- ronmental features on macrobenthic assemblages was also tested. Overall, the lowest macrobenthic abundances and functional group diversity were found in deeper sites, espe- cially in the pond characterised by severe guanotrophication, where the higher disturbance resulted in a decline in suspension feeders and carnivores in favour of deposit feeders. An increase in opportunistic/tolerant taxa (e.g. chironomid larvae and paraonids) and totally azoic sediments were also found as an effect of the harshest environmental conditions, re- sulting in a very poor ecological status. We conclude that macrobenthic assemblages of the Marinello coastal system display high spatial variability due to a synergistic effect of trophic status and the geomorphological features of the ponds. Themacrobenthic response to gua- notrophication, which was a clear decrease in abundance, diversity and trophic functional groups, was associated with the typical response to severe eutrophication, magnified by the geomorphological features.