The fate of organic matter sources in coastal environments: a comparison of three Mediterranean lagoons

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Trophic processes in coastal lagoons arestrongly influenced by freshwater inputs and waterexchanges with the sea. In recent years, stable isotopeanalysis has become a widespread and reliable methodfor the examination of trophic structure over time andspace, also in complex ecosystems such as coastallagoons. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen werestudied in primary producers and consumers toidentify organic matter source pools from terrestrial,benthic and pelagic environments and to characterisethe trophic structure in three Mediterranean coastallagoons (Lake Fusaro, the Lake of Sabaudia andStagnone di Marsala). The results highlighted thenegligible importance of terrestrial production tohigher trophic levels in all the ecosystems investigated.Consumer dependence on benthic and pelagicorganic matter showed high variability: overall macroalgaewere at the base of the food web in LakeFusaro and the Lake of Sabaudia, while mixed sources(seagrass detritus, epiphytes, macroalgae and sedimentaryorganic matter) appeared to be the majorbaseline food resource in the Stagnone di Marsala. We have found evidence for significant changes in thetrophic structure in these Mediterranean coastallagoons and such differences may be triggered bydifferential environmental features (e.g. freshwaterinputs and hydrodynamic regime).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-79
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science


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