Montecarlo, Italy
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Gennaro P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2011

Effects of eutrophication on marine ecosystems have been widely studied, even if both the effects on deep subtidal rocky assemblages and response of different successional stages to nutrients impact are still not clear. In this context, the study aimed to evaluate the effects of nutrient enrichment on Mediterranean macroalgal assemblages associated with coralligenous habitat. A manipulative field experiment was carried out by supplying both mature and early successional stages of assemblages with nutrients. A total of 62 macroalgal species were identified. Multivariate and univariate analyses showed that the structure of both mature and early successional macroalgal assemblages of coralligenous significantly varied between areas treated with nutrients and not treated areas. Moreover, differences were stronger when macroalgal assemblages were in the early successional stage than in the mature one. Results highlighted the role played by nutrients in determining the structure of macroalgal coralligenous assemblages, furthermore suggesting possible synergetic effects with other kinds of disturbances. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Gennaro P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2012

Coralligenous habitat is one of the most important coastal systems of the Mediterranean Sea. This paper evaluates the main threats to macroalgal coralligenous habitats through a review of the relevant literature. Sedimentation, nutrient enrichment and biological invasions can cause severe alterations in the structure of coralligenous assemblages due to the regression of perennial structuring species and increases in populations of ephemeral algae. Under pristine conditions, mechanical disturbance seems to be easily mitigated by the recovery capability of coralligenous assemblages; however, such disturbances seriously affect coralligenous structure if they occur in concert with other stressors. Important synergetic effects among all the studied anthropogenic disturbances are also highlighted. The main consequences of the considered stressors are the loss of the complexity of macroalgal assemblages and the deterioration of both alpha and beta diversity. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Piazzi L.,University of Sassari | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Cecchi E.,Regional Agency for the Tuscan Environment protection ARPAT | Gennaro P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Serena F.,Regional Agency for the Tuscan Environment protection ARPAT
Scientia Marina | Year: 2014

Coralligenous habitat is one of the most important and sensitive habitats of the Mediterranean Sea and several different sampling procedures are currently used in the ecological investigations of coralligenous assemblages. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of different methods in detecting anthropogenic impacts on coralligenous habitat. In particular, the choice of sampling methods, the level of taxonomic resolution, the sampling area, the number of replicates and the spatial scales for detecting possible impacts were evaluated. Results showed that photographic samples larger than 1800 cm2, numbers of replicates larger than 10, the use of taxa and morphological groups as assemblage descriptors, and sampling designs with a high replication at small spatial scales are a valid methodological procedure in impact evaluation studies based on coralligenous assemblages. © 2014 CSIC.


Piazzi L.,University of Sassari | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Bulleri F.,University of Pisa | Gennaro P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Ceccherelli G.,University of Sassari
Marine Biology | Year: 2016

The spread of the green macroalga Caulerpa cylindracea is one of the most threatening invasions in the Mediterranean Sea. Many correlative and experimental studies have focused on different aspects of C. cylindracea invasion. This paper aims to evaluate the main factors influencing the spread of this alga through an overview of the results from 47 published papers on this topic; a conceptual model synthesizing the main biotic and abiotic factors that influence C. cylindracea spread was proposed. Mechanical destruction of habitats, enhanced sedimentation rate and nutrients loading directly promote the spread of C. cylindracea. Indirect effects due to factors that foster the spread of turf-forming algae at the expense of canopy-forming species and decrease substrate complexity emerged as an important determinant of the success of C. cylindracea. Ultimately, the spread of C. cylindracea appears to be regulated by a complex net of interactions between abiotic and biotic factors. Our conceptual model represents a general tool for the rapid assessment of the factor underpinning the spread of non-native species, a critical step for the control of non-native species that have successfully established viable populations. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Tamburello L.,University of Pisa | Bulleri F.,University of Pisa | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Benedetti-Cecchi L.,University of Pisa
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2014

Summary: Natural and human-generated disturbances are widely acknowledged as key drivers of biological invasions. Understanding the role of spatial patterns of compounded disturbances in determining invader establishment and spread can enhance the effectiveness of control strategies. Using the framework of 1/f noise models and by means of a field experiment, we evaluated how the simultaneous exposure of Posidonia oceanica meadows to disturbances (namely overgrazing and rhizome uprooting from vessel anchoring) differing in spatial extent and degree of autocorrelation influenced the establishment and spread of the invasive seaweed, Caulerpa racemosa. Effects on invader establishment and spread were evaluated by means of mixed-effect models relating spatial patterns of disturbance and presence or abundance of C. racemosa, quantified through spectral coefficients. The spatial distribution of C. racemosa mimicked that of overgrazing, both variables showing positive autocorrelation. Yet, C. racemosa was unable to disperse from disturbed patches into adjacent intact areas. The uprooting of rhizomes did not promote the establishment of C. racemosa, but magnified (≃18 times) the proliferation of the exotic seaweed when coupled with overgrazing. Synthesis and applications. Fish overgrazing of Posidonia oceanica lessens the resistance of seagrass beds to invasion by Caulerpa racemosa. Thus, conservation strategies (e.g. marine protected areas) aiming to restore over-exploited fish populations may indirectly enhance the susceptibility of P. oceanica meadows to invasion by C. racemosa. Uprooting of P. oceanica rhizomes, such as that caused by boat anchoring, exacerbates the effects of overgrazing. The anchoring of recreational vessels should be, therefore, strictly regulated in areas characterized by intense grazing of P. oceanica leaves. More generally, our study shows that native herbivores may indirectly facilitate invasion by reducing the resistance of resident plant communities and suggests that sounded strategies for controlling the establishment and spread of invasive species require taking into account the interactive effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Fish overgrazing of Posidonia oceanica lessens the resistance of seagrass beds to invasion by Caulerpa racemosa. Thus, conservation strategies (e.g. marine protected areas) aiming to restore over-exploited fish populations may indirectly enhance the susceptibility of P. oceanica meadows to invasion by C. racemosa. Uprooting of P. oceanica rhizomes, such as that caused by boat anchoring, exacerbates the effects of overgrazing. The anchoring of recreational vessels should be, therefore, strictly regulated in areas characterized by intense grazing of P. oceanica leaves. More generally, our study shows that native herbivores may indirectly facilitate invasion by reducing the resistance of resident plant communities and suggests that sounded strategies for controlling the establishment and spread of invasive species require taking into account the interactive effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. © 2013 British Ecological Society.


Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Piazzi L.,University of Sassari | Bulleri F.,University of Pisa
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2015

A three-year experimental study was performed to evaluate the interactive effects of topographic complexity and sedimentation in determining the structure of rocky macroalgal assemblages. The following hypotheses were tested: i) the structure of macroalgal assemblages varies according to the complexity of the substratum; ii) high sediment deposition reduces variations in the structure of assemblages among substrata characterized by different complexity. At natural levels of sediment deposition, greater substratum complexity enhanced species richness and favored the development of assemblages dominated by architecturally complex species, such as large corticated Rhodophyta. Under high sediment deposition, turfs became the main component of macroalgal assemblages, although different filamentous forms responded differently to substratum complexity. In addition, high sediment deposition increased the abundance of the invasive Chlorophyta, Caulerpa cylindracea, on low complexity substrata, but decreased it on high complexity substrata. These results show that an increase in sediment deposition can dampen variations between assemblages associated to substrata characterized by different complexity, with consequent reduction of both alpha (i.e., species loss) and beta diversity (i.e., decreased small-scale variation in community structure). © 2015.


Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Piazzi L.,Centro Interuniversitario Of Biologia Marina Ed Ecologia Applicata | Rindi F.,Marche Polytechnic University
Marine Biology | Year: 2011

Morpho-functional group classifications have been widely used in studies concerning benthic macroalgal communities, due to their easy application and the reduced cost and workload compared with species-level identifications. However, their effectiveness in representing spatio-temporal patterns and describing the effect of disturbances has been disputed. We propose a new, expanded classification of morphological functional groups based on thallus structure, growth form, branching pattern, and taxonomic affinities. This approach was tested on subtidal macroalgal assemblages of the western Mediterranean. We examined the differences in composition of assemblages subjected to different types of stressors using species, traditional morphological groups, and new morphological groups. Results showed that the new morphological groups allowed to detect patterns highlighted through species analyses generally better than the use of traditional morpho-functional groups. The new morphological groups may represent a valid tool in monitoring programs and environmental impact assessments, where it is important to detect early stages of environmental changes using methods that allow to examine a large number of samples in a limited time. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


Piazzi L.,University of Sassari | Balata D.,Tenuta San Beda | Ceccherelli G.,University of Sassari
Marine Ecology | Year: 2016

This paper reviews the main studies dealing with epiphytes of both leaves and rhizomes of Posidonia oceanica, the main seagrass found in the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 660 epiphyte species has been recorded, including 430 on leaves and 437 on rhizomes. Of these, 205 are Rhodophyta, 59 Ochrophyta, 43 Chlorophyta, 78 Porifera, 82 Cnidaria, 19 Annelida, 155 Bryozoa and 19 Tunicata. The epiphyte assemblages demonstrate a gradient of dissimilarity from west to east, with the eastern area being the most unlike the others. The differences can be attributed mostly to rare species that differ amongst the Mediterranean regions. Many of the dominant taxa have been found in all meadows studied. Data concerning species composition, abundance, and patterns of spatial and temporal variability are summarized, and biotic and abiotic factors controlling the structure of assemblages are discussed. Responses of epiphyte assemblages to anthropogenic stressors, such as nutrient enrichment and biological invasions, are discussed in relation to the use of epiphytes as ecological indicators. © 2016 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

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