Fish-farming effects on benthic community structure in coastal sediments: Analysis of meiofaunal recovery

Antonio Mazzola, La Rosa, Danovaro, Mirto, Fabiano, Mazzola

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Abstract

To study the impact of organic enrichment and high biodeposition caused by intensive fish farming in coastal sediments, meiofaunal samples were collected on a monthly basis between March and October 1997 at two stations of the Gaeta Gulf: One under the Farmocean cage (2000 m3), while the other (the control) was located at about 1 km from an area not impacted by fish farming. The fish farm contained about 120 000 Dicentrarchus labrax (density 18 kg m -3). The most evident changes in the benthic habitat under the cage were a large accumulation of primary organic material (phytopigment concentrations up to 44 μg g-1), changes in sedimentary organic matter composition (increased lipid levels related to the composition of the fish diet), and a strong reduction of redox potential values, which resulted in a significant reduction of meiofaunal penetration depth into the sediments. Organic loads had a clear impact on meiofaunal densities, which were 50% lower under the cage than at the control site (1112 ± 118 and 2160 ± 339 ind. 10 cm-2, respectively). Compared with the control, farm sediments also showed an increased importance of copepods, which dominated the meiofauna together with nematodes (both 39% of the total density) and polychaetes (17%). The removal of the fish farm from the site on July 1997 allowed an analysis to be made of the initial short and medium-term recovery of the assemblages. After two months, meiofaunal densities were closer to the control (about 30% recovery). Community structure recovered only partially to the characteristics typical of the study area, with increased importance of nematodes (about 70% of total density) and reduced copepod contribution, but it was still characterized by a lower number of taxa after four months. These data suggest that meiofaunal recovery after fish farm disturbance is rapid, but far from complete after four months. © 2000 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)1454-1461
Numero di pagine8
RivistaICES Journal of Marine Science
Volume57
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2000

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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