Journal article Open Access

Impact of breakwater relocation on benthic biodiversity associated with seagrass meadows of northern Adriatic Sea

Laura Carugati; Marco Lo Martire; Cristina Gambi; Roberto Danovaro

Breakwaters are man-made constructions utilized for preventing coastal erosion primarily from wave action. At the same time, defence structures, modifying currents and circulation can afect water quality and benthic assemblages. Assessing and minimizing the impact of these structures is a priority in human-modifed coastal ecosystems, such as the central northern Adriatic where breakwaters extend for hundreds of kilometres. We investigated the efects of breakwater relocation on benthic features and meiofaunal diversity. To do this, we conducted a before–after comparison of (2011–2017) the relocation, which occurred in 2015. The analysis was conducted comparing a sheltered site, characterized by the presence of seagrass meadows and a wave-exposed site. Sediment features and meiofaunal variables were altered by the relocation, especially in the areas colonized by seagrass meadows. Results presented here pointed out to an enrichment in organic matter, the loss of two sensitive taxa (Cumacea and Ostracoda) and a shift in the assemblage structure with the increase of the relevance of Copepoda and Polychaeta. These results indicate that the careful management of breakwater is crucial for planning adequate conservation practices and protecting seagrass habitats and their biodiversity.

This study has been conducted in the framework of the Project MERCES funded from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant agreement no. 689518. This paper reflects only the authors' views and the funders cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained there in. Copyright © 2018. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http:// /licenses/by/4.0/).
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