, Volume 617, Issue 1, pp 117–141 | Cite as

Validation of the Macrophyte Quality Index (MaQI) set up to assess the ecological status of Italian marine transitional environments

  • Adriano Sfriso
  • Chiara Facca
  • Pier Francesco Ghetti
Primary research paper


The paper couples the results obtained by applying the expert and the rapid Macrophyte Quality Indices set up to assess the ecological status of the Italian transitional environments according to the requirements by the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/CE). The indices were validated by comparing the composition of the macrophyte assemblages and the values of some bio-physico-chemical parameters of the water column of 20 stations of the Venice lagoon sampled monthly for one year between 2003 and 2005. In 5 stations out of the 20, the ones which fall within the 5 classes of ecological status suggested by the Water Framework Directive, sedimentation rates, sediment grain-size, and nutrient and pollutant (metals, Polychloro-Dibenzo-Dioxins/Furans, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Pesticides and Polychlorinated Biphenils) concentrations in surface sediments were also determined. Results showed strong relationships between the trends of these environmental parameters and the composition and structure of macrophyte associations, as well as with the Macrophyte Quality Index assessment. Chlorophyceae showed a trend opposite to Rhodophyceae whose presence was concentrated in oxygenated and transparent environments. Chlorophyceae and the species characterised by low scores prevailed in turbid areas where nutrient and pollutant concentrations were high. Results allowed the identification of the conditions of the “reference sites” (confinement areas and sites with high water renewal) and the integration of the dichotomic key used for the application of the R-MaQI.


Transitional environments Ecological indices Environmental quality Water Framework Directive Macrophytes Mediterranean Sea eco-region 



The environmental data used in this work were collected in the framework of the project “Ecological integrity and trophic state indices for coastal and transition marine areas based on macroalgal taxonomic ratios, target species and nutrient concentrations” co-funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). The project was one of the 5 projects co-funded within the programme “NITIDA” (New trophic state and ecological integrity descriptors of coastal marine and transitional environments) (in Italian) in 2003—prot. 2003051023_005. The authors are grateful also to Dr. Orietta Zucchetta for the English editing and to Sonia Ceoldo for the technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriano Sfriso
    • 1
  • Chiara Facca
    • 1
  • Pier Francesco Ghetti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VeniceVeniceItaly

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