Scientia Marina, Vol 74, No 2 (2010)

Benthic assemblage of Acquatina Lake (South Adriatic Sea): present state and long-term faunistic changes

Roberto Schirosi
Laboratory of Marine Biology and Zoology, CoNISMa, DiSTeBA, Salento University , Italy

Luigi Musco
Laboratory of Marine Biology and Zoology, CoNISMa, DiSTeBA, Salento University , Italy

Adriana Giangrande
Laboratory of Marine Biology and Zoology, CoNISMa, DiSTeBA, Salento University , Italy


A study on macrobenthos of Acquatina Lake, a transitional water basin, was performed in order to evaluate its present status and detect any faunistic changes after the digging of a larger connection with the open sea that has improved the hydrological conditions. A total of 5029 individuals belonging to 51 taxa were collected. Molluscs were taxonomically the richest group, but polychaetes were the most abundant due to the high abundance of Heteromastus filiformis. The sites representing two extremes of the biotope in terms of both the salinity gradient and the distance from the sea had the most variable assemblages, while the central area showed a more homogeneous faunal composition. This was due to the different distribution patterns of molluscs and polychaetes: the former seemed to be more influenced by salinity, while the latter were also influenced by oxygen saturation. The comparison between the present and historical data showed the increase of polychaete diversity, the change in the dominant taxa (from Naineris laevigata to H. filiformis) and the disappearance of some opportunistic forms (e.g. Capitella capitata). Changes in the salinity gradient and the improvement of trophic conditions, possibly enhanced by biotic interactions (e.g. possible competition between the two capitellids H. filiformis and Notomastus latericeus), may have led the polychaete assemblage towards the new equilibrium.


DISTLM-forward; Polychaeta; Mollusca; brackish-water; soft bottom; Mediterranean Sea; human management

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