The benthic ecosystem functioning is a rarely applied holistic approach that integrates the main chemical and biological features of the benthic domain with the key processes responsible for the flux of energy and C through the system. For the first time, such conceptual model, with an emphasis on the heterotrophic pathways, has been applied to the sediments at four stations within one of the most polluted coastal areas in Italy: the Mar Piccolo of Taranto. The functioning of the benthic ecosystem was different according to the investigated site. Nearby the military arsenal, i.e., the main source of organic contaminants and heavy metals, the system seemed inhibited at all the investigated structural and functional levels. Slow microbial processes of C reworking together with very limited densities of benthic fauna suggested a modest transfer of C both into a solid microbial loop and to the higher trophic levels. On the other hand, the ingression of marine water through the "Navigabile" channel seemed to stimulate the organic matter degradation and, consequently, the proliferation of meiofauna and macrofauna. In the innermost part of the basin, the system functioning, to some extent, is less impacted by contaminants and more influenced by mussel farms. The organic matter produced by these bivalves fueled faster C reworking by benthic prokaryotes and enhanced the proliferation of filter feeders.

Benthic ecosystem functioning in the severely contaminated Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Ionian Sea, Italy): focus on heterotrophic pathways

Franzo A;Auriemma R;Nasi F;Cibic T;Del Negro P
2016

Abstract

The benthic ecosystem functioning is a rarely applied holistic approach that integrates the main chemical and biological features of the benthic domain with the key processes responsible for the flux of energy and C through the system. For the first time, such conceptual model, with an emphasis on the heterotrophic pathways, has been applied to the sediments at four stations within one of the most polluted coastal areas in Italy: the Mar Piccolo of Taranto. The functioning of the benthic ecosystem was different according to the investigated site. Nearby the military arsenal, i.e., the main source of organic contaminants and heavy metals, the system seemed inhibited at all the investigated structural and functional levels. Slow microbial processes of C reworking together with very limited densities of benthic fauna suggested a modest transfer of C both into a solid microbial loop and to the higher trophic levels. On the other hand, the ingression of marine water through the "Navigabile" channel seemed to stimulate the organic matter degradation and, consequently, the proliferation of meiofauna and macrofauna. In the innermost part of the basin, the system functioning, to some extent, is less impacted by contaminants and more influenced by mussel farms. The organic matter produced by these bivalves fueled faster C reworking by benthic prokaryotes and enhanced the proliferation of filter feeders.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/1409
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