To assess the influence of river-derived material on the benthic ecosystem in the Po River prodelta area, we investigated the structural and functional features of macrofaunal invertebrates in 14 sites. Biodiversity, species composition, response and effect traits of the community were determined and related to the main sediment physical-chemical and nutritional features (biopolymeric carbon, BPC; protein to carbohydrate ratio, Prt/Cho ratio; phaeopigment to chlorophyll-a ratio, Phaeo/Chl-a), as well as contaminants. We found significant spatial differences in community structure and its functional expression between northern and southern stations, and between nearshore and offshore ones. The shallower stations located nearby the main river mouth displayed higher densities, diversity and functional redundancy compared to southern stations. The main discriminating factors for the community were the higher percentage of sand and Prt/Cho nearby the river mouth, and fine grain-size and high Phaeo/Chl-a at the southernmost and deeper stations. Contaminant concentrations did not seem to severely affect the macrofaunal community. Changes in community structure were due to the dominance of few species, which occurrence varied according to grain-size and organic matter quality that in turn were linked to the different magnitude of depositional loads in the investigated area. Focusing on response traits, we observed a clear influence of high loads nearby the main river mouth, through the dominance of sessile and tube-builder trait-categories at stations with a higher sand content. In contrast, we detected a major expression of burrowers and interface crawlers, and swimmers at southern and principally offshore muddy stations. Effect traits revealed that in the northern part of the prodelta prevailed suspension, surface deposit feeders and conveyor invertebrates that are, respectively, fundamental players in the benthic-pelagic coupling and elemental cycling within benthos. In the southern part, subsurface deposit feeder and biodiffuser organisms dominated. The latter are able to rework huge amounts of sediments also in the deepest layers, amplifying the elemental cycling and decomposition. In highly dynamic systems, as delta areas, the presence of invertebrates able to exploit different resources through bioturbation activities may enhance the functions of riverine costal ecosystems.

Structural and functional response of coastal macrofaunal community to terrigenous input from the Po River (northern Adriatic Sea)

Nasi F;Auriemma R;Relitti F;Bazzaro M;Cibic T
2020

Abstract

To assess the influence of river-derived material on the benthic ecosystem in the Po River prodelta area, we investigated the structural and functional features of macrofaunal invertebrates in 14 sites. Biodiversity, species composition, response and effect traits of the community were determined and related to the main sediment physical-chemical and nutritional features (biopolymeric carbon, BPC; protein to carbohydrate ratio, Prt/Cho ratio; phaeopigment to chlorophyll-a ratio, Phaeo/Chl-a), as well as contaminants. We found significant spatial differences in community structure and its functional expression between northern and southern stations, and between nearshore and offshore ones. The shallower stations located nearby the main river mouth displayed higher densities, diversity and functional redundancy compared to southern stations. The main discriminating factors for the community were the higher percentage of sand and Prt/Cho nearby the river mouth, and fine grain-size and high Phaeo/Chl-a at the southernmost and deeper stations. Contaminant concentrations did not seem to severely affect the macrofaunal community. Changes in community structure were due to the dominance of few species, which occurrence varied according to grain-size and organic matter quality that in turn were linked to the different magnitude of depositional loads in the investigated area. Focusing on response traits, we observed a clear influence of high loads nearby the main river mouth, through the dominance of sessile and tube-builder trait-categories at stations with a higher sand content. In contrast, we detected a major expression of burrowers and interface crawlers, and swimmers at southern and principally offshore muddy stations. Effect traits revealed that in the northern part of the prodelta prevailed suspension, surface deposit feeders and conveyor invertebrates that are, respectively, fundamental players in the benthic-pelagic coupling and elemental cycling within benthos. In the southern part, subsurface deposit feeder and biodiffuser organisms dominated. The latter are able to rework huge amounts of sediments also in the deepest layers, amplifying the elemental cycling and decomposition. In highly dynamic systems, as delta areas, the presence of invertebrates able to exploit different resources through bioturbation activities may enhance the functions of riverine costal ecosystems.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/1385
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