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Effects of an exotic invader on Mediterranean lagoonal communities

By Munari C.


The impact that the alien mussel Musculista senhousia has on benthic biodiversity and community structure was investigated in two Italian transitional environments, where the species was particularly abundant: the Sacca di Goro (Adriatic Sea), and the Rio Padrongiano Deltaic area (Sardinia, Tyrrhenian Sea). Sampling campaigns were conducted by sampling mussel beds from each of two different patch size classes (small, < 1.0 m2, and large: > 10.0 m2), and the surrounding bare sediments. At both study sites, mussel density varied greatly with time within and between patches. Despite the huge difference in benthic species complement at Goro and Padrongiano (33 and 115 taxa, respectively), at both sites the presence of mussel patches had a gross positive effect on the benthic community. At Goro, many trophic guilds showed a positive relationship with mussel abundance. At Padrongiano, a continuous and directional process of patches colonization (both large and small) through time seemed evident, while at Goro the process was interrupted by high summer mortalities. At both study sites, M. senhousia played a double role: (1) as secondary substratum, enhancing the environmental structural complexity, and (2) as densely aggregated, living organisms, thus giving rise to a number of possible interactions with other invertebrates. The outcome, however, was strictly dependent by the level of anthropogenic stress, in this case water oxygen deficiency, which was different at the two study site

Topics: macrobenthos, Musculista senhousia, community structure, biodiversity, Mediterranean lagoons.
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10750-008-9459-0
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