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

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Abstract

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.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine19
RivistaPLoS One
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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