, Volume 611, Issue 1, pp 67-79

The fate of organic matter sources in coastal environments: a comparison of three Mediterranean lagoons

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Trophic processes in coastal lagoons are strongly influenced by freshwater inputs and water exchanges with the sea. In recent years, stable isotope analysis has become a widespread and reliable method for the examination of trophic structure over time and space, also in complex ecosystems such as coastal lagoons. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen were studied in primary producers and consumers to identify organic matter source pools from terrestrial, benthic and pelagic environments and to characterise the trophic structure in three Mediterranean coastal lagoons (Lake Fusaro, the Lake of Sabaudia and Stagnone di Marsala). The results highlighted the negligible importance of terrestrial production to higher trophic levels in all the ecosystems investigated. Consumer dependence on benthic and pelagic organic matter showed high variability: overall macroalgae were at the base of the food web in Lake Fusaro and the Lake of Sabaudia, while mixed sources (seagrass detritus, epiphytes, macroalgae and sedimentary organic matter) appeared to be the major baseline food resource in the Stagnone di Marsala. We have found evidence for significant changes in the trophic structure in these Mediterranean coastal lagoons and such differences may be triggered by differential environmental features (e.g. freshwater inputs and hydrodynamic regime).

Guest editors: A. Razinkovas, Z. R. Gasiūnaitė, J. M. Zaldivar & P. Viaroli
European Lagoons and their Watersheds: Function and Biodiversity