Hydrobiologia

, Volume 571, Issue 1, pp 383–394

Benthic communities on a sandy Ligurian beach (NW Mediterranean)

  • Anabella Covazzi Harriague
  • Luigi Gaozza
  • Alessandro Montella
  • Cristina Misic
Primary Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-006-0264-3

Cite this article as:
Harriague, A.C., Gaozza, L., Montella, A. et al. Hydrobiologia (2006) 571: 383. doi:10.1007/s10750-006-0264-3

Abstract

The different components of the benthic community of a sandy microtidal beach (Arenzano) in Liguria (NW Mediterranean) were investigated during late spring (May) 2002 and 2003. Sampling was carried out in two transects, chosen in order to represent the characteristics of the entire beach and their eventual spatial variations. Each transect included two stations: one placed in the swash zone (SW) and one in the surf zone (SF). Although no significant differences were found in the sediment texture over the 2 years (t-tests p > 0.1 for all the granulometric fractions), notwithstanding an increase in the mean grain size (from 0.8 to 1.1 mm) between the sampling periods, 2002 was characterised by a higher quantity of organic matter (on average 14.4 vs. 3.6 gC  m−2 for the sum of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) and higher bacterial biomass (on average 1.9 vs. 0.9 gC  m−2). The metazoan assemblages (meiofauna and macrofauna) were also richer (density = 2.9 × 105 vs. 1.0 × 105 ind. m−2, biomass = 0.09 vs. 0.03 gC  m−2 for meiofauna; density = 1988 vs. 739 ind. m−2, biomass = 0.14 vs. 0.03 gC  m−2 for macrofauna) in 2002. A significant quantitative reduction (t-test for proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, at least p = 0.004) in the food supply in 2003 affected the abundance of the metazoans, as confirmed by a multivariate analysis that clearly differentiated the 2 years, and seemed to inhibit their relationships within the benthic food web. The bacterial biomass was always dominant, even under the least favourable trophic conditions, due to the ability of bacteria to adapt to a very harsh environment. Our results suggest that the food supply played an important role in the benthic community structures of the beach during late spring, bacteria being the key organisms within the benthic system. The communities seemed to be bottom-up controlled, while predation seemed to be irrelevant.

Keywords

bacteria meiofauna macrofauna organic matter degradation beach NW Mediterranean Ligurian Sea 

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anabella Covazzi Harriague
    • 1
  • Luigi Gaozza
    • 1
  • Alessandro Montella
    • 1
  • Cristina Misic
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento per lo Studio del Territorio e delle sue RisorseUniversità di GenovaGenovaItaly

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