Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Pusceddu A., Gambi C., Manini E., Danovaro R. Trophic state, ecosystem efficiency and biodiversity of transitional aquatic ecosystems: analysis of environmental quality based on different benthic indicators. In: Chemistry and Ecology, vol. 23 (6) pp. 505 - 515. Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2007.
Estuaries and coastal lagoons are characterized by a strong spatial and temporal variability of physicochemical characteristics and productivity patterns. In these environments, the magnitude and direction of the ecological responses to inorganic nutrient increase (i.e. eutrophication) are difficult to predict. In the framework of the project, New Indicators of Trophic state and environmental quality of marine coastal ecosystems and transitional environments (NITIDA), we analysed benthic indicators of trophic state, ecosystem efficiency, and environmental quality in four different transitional environments. The trophic state of the sediments was assessed in terms of quantity and bioavailability of sediment organic C pools; ecosystem efficiency was determined in terms of the prokaryote efficiency in exploiting enzymatycally degraded organic C; environmental quality was determined in terms of meiofaunal diversity. Here, we provide a synopsis of the results obtained and a meta-analysis of the scores assessments obtained using the different ecological indicators of environmental quality and demonstrate that trophic state, ecosystem efficiency, and biodiversity in transitional ecosystems are closely linked. We conclude that the assessment of the environmental quality of transitional ecosystems should be based upon a battery of trophic state indicators and 'sensors' of ecosystem functioning, efficiency, and quality.
DOI: 10.1080/02757540701760494
Subject trophic state
ecosystem efficiency
transitional aquatic ecosystems
environmental quality
benthic indicators

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