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Composition of epiphytic leaf community of Posidonia oceanica as a tool for environmental biomonitoring

AuthorsMartínez-Crego, Begoña; Prado, Patricia ; Alcoverro, Teresa ; Romero, Javier
KeywordsEnvironmental quality
Issue Date2010
CitationEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 88(2) : 199-208 (2010)
AbstractThe demand for sensitive biological tools to assess the environmental quality of coastal waters at broad spatial scales is increasing. Many of the tools used are based on the taxonomic composition of biotic assemblages. They usually require a valuable taxonomic expertise while are unique reflecting the overall ecosystem integrity. Here, we evaluate the potential indicator value of several features of the epiphyticcommunity (overall assemblage composition, species richness, and proportion of the main taxonomic groups) growing on the seagrass Posidoniaoceanicaleaves. We do so by empirically examining their changes along a disturbance gradient where multiple human activities have interactive and cumulative impacts, sampling at different spatial scales and at two different depths (5 and 15 m). Our results show that the specific composition of the epiphytic assemblages (i.e. species composition) closely reflects, in the deep meadows, the combined effects of different anthropogenic stressors along the gradient, showing an integrative and non-specific response. Similarly, an increase in the proportion of hydrozoans, and a decrease in the proportion of rhodophytes and chlorophytes are observed in deep meadows along the gradient. In shallow meadows, grazing and biotic features of the seagrass seem the main forcing factors determining species composition, and therefore masking the response of epiphytes to the deterioration gradient. After address the effect of natural sources of variability (water depth, within- and between-meadow heterogeneity), changes in epiphyte assemblages and in the proportion of hydrozoans, rhodophytes and chlorophytes in relatively deep meadows seem promising monitoring tools for detecting coastal environmental deterioration.
Description10 páginas, 3 tabls, 6 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2010.03.026
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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