Small-scale perturbation on soft bottom macrozoobenthos after mechanical cleaning operations in a Central-Western Mediterranean lagoon


1 - Sardinia Island (Italy), even if relatively small, has over 100 lagoons totalling some 12,000 ha. Yet their potential yield remain often unexpressed because they are subjected to environmental stress and degradation. As far as benthic communities are concerned, one of the main disturbances is certainly the accumulation of shell detritus, which progressively modifies the way benthic organisms interact with the sediment. 2 - An experimental dredging study was therefore performed in the Calich lagoon (NW Sardinia), due to its particular interest for fishing activities and potential semi-intensive mollusc culture. Changes in benthic community structure were examined in two areas of the lagoon by analysing both the demographic profile of several abundant species and the features of sedimentary matrix immediately after the cleaning operations and seven months later. Data obtained were compared with those collected in undisturbed areas of the lagoon. This allowed us to evaluate the effects of dredging operations on the benthic assemblages unaffected by natural temporal shifts of the system. 3 - Univariate and multivariate analyses indicated a strong relationship between macrofaunal community structure and intensity of the cleaning activities. At the dredged sites benthic fauna was not depleted but did exhibit higher diversity and evenness indexes than at the undisturbed sites. This seemed to be a consequence of decrease in the density of some abundant species at the dredged sites. Furthermore, a general reduction of total organic content was observed in the upper sediment layer. Lastly, the cleaning method employed is discussed in relation to its potential for impacting the benthos.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv1n2p9

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