The Ecological Restoration of the Tarquinia Salterns drives the temporal changes in the benthic community structure


1 - Although wetland ecosystems are able to sustain high degree of biological diversity and provide social and economic value, they are also the most impacted and degraded of all ecological systems. 2 - Natural and human-based alterations are particularly evident in small aquatic ecosystems, where the recovery time can be greatly reduced because of the geological and geomorphological characteristics of the sites. 3 - Although seldom used in lentic environment, benthic communities may represent a suitable tool to measure the recovery effects in aquatic ecosystems, due to several characteristics that make them useful as bioindicator. 4 - Here we study the response of benthic communities to the recovery of the Tarquinia Salterns after their abandon and consequent habitat degradation. The increased deposition of organic and inorganic sediments entailed shallow ponds and laminar circulation, causing eutrophication. The ecological restoration of the site allowed reinstating the water depth and flow and returned environmental parameters (mainly dissolved oxygen) to their typical values. 5 - We measured several characteristics of species assemblage in three different sites of the Tarquinia Salterns, covering a period of ten years spanning from pre-recovery to post-recovery phases. 6 - Our results are twofold: i) they show the feasibility of monitoring wetland restoration activities by investigating the pattern of species assemblage in benthic ecological communities and, ii) show the importance of regional and local processes in the composition and response of benthic communities to perturbations.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv4n1p105

Keywords: Solar saltern; Benthos; Ecological restoration

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