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Monitoring with benthic fauna in Italian coastal lagoons: new tools for new prospects

Munari, C., Warwick, R.M. and Mistri, M. (2009) Monitoring with benthic fauna in Italian coastal lagoons: new tools for new prospects. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 19 (5). pp. 575-587.

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1. The search for simple and effective descriptors of biological ecosystem components is a major challenge of monitoring the health of transitional waters.

2. The recent development of rapid environmental assessment techniques provides additional tools that can assist the monitoring and evaluation of the aquatic environment: (a) the taxonomic sufficiency perspective, which involves the identification of taxa only to a level of taxonomic resolution sufficient to permit the detection of changes in stressed assemblages; and (b) the taxonomic distinctness perspective, sample-size/sample-effort free indices that take into account the classification of species to higher categories along the phylogenetic/taxonomic tree. These techniques have rarely been applied to Italian transitional water ecosystems.

3. Quantitative data relating to the composition and abundance of macrofauna collected during several surveys between 1999 and 2005 from nine Italian transitional water (TW) ecosystems were analysed, in order to test whether these rapid environmental assessment techniques may have operational value in the management of these ecosystems.

4. This study emphasized a number of interesting features of taxonomic composition and relatedness of TW benthic macroinvertebrates: (a) analyses of the macrofauna in TWs at higher taxonomic resolution represents a valid tool in routine monitoring; (b) the taxonomic sufficiency is at quite a high taxonomic level (at the family level) in lagoonal systems; (c) the capacity of the taxonomic distinctness perspective to discriminate along gradients of environmental degradation, but also its difficulty in distinguishing between unperturbed and impacted sites where the benthic community is very low in species numbers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Copyright: © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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