Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Coll M., Santojanni A., Palomera I., Arneri E. Ecosystem assessment of the North-Central Adriatic Sea: towards a multivariate reference framework. In: Marine Ecology-Progress Series, vol. 417 pp. 193 - 210. Inter-Research, 2010.
We analyzed data from catch statistics, scientific surveys and results from ecosystem models to assess main changes in marine resources of the North-Central Adriatic Sea (Central Mediterranean) from the mid 1970s to the early 2000s. We then quantified food-web changes using these datasets and trophodynamic indicators. We applied time series trends and a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to reduce the number of multivariate dimensions and to define ecosystem reference directions. To assess the correlation between ecological indicators and abiotic (human or environmental)factors, we used the non-parametric BIO-ENV procedure. Results illustrated a general decrease in the biomass and catch of target species with time, with a first phase of increasing catch and biomass of some organisms from the 1970s to the 1980s, a 'fishing down the food web' process during the 1980s, and a clear trend towards biomass and catch reductions during the late 1990s and early 2000s. These changes occurred in parallel with an increase in fishing effort and human development in the basin and changes in environmental factors such as an increase in the average annual sea water temperature, a decrease in the inflow of highly saline Mediterranean water into the Adriatic Sea, and changes in the atmospheric pressure at sea level. We found a high and significant correlation between ecological indicators and abiotic factors (in particular with human factors: fishing effort and the human development index). Results from the PCA summarized main ecosystem trends and could be used as a reference framework. These results complement traditional single-species fisheries assessments and inform on past trajectories and present ecological status of the North-Central Adriatic Sea.
DOI: 10.3354/meps08800
Subject food-web model
catch statistics
biomass surveys
trophodynamic indicators
fishing impact
environmental factors
ecosystem-reference directions
Adriatic Sea

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