Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 2410–2425 | Cite as

Local Habitat and Seascape Structure Influence Seagrass Fish Assemblages in the Venice Lagoon: The Importance of Conservation at Multiple Spatial Scales

  • Luca Scapin
  • Matteo Zucchetta
  • Adriano Sfriso
  • Piero Franzoi


Seagrass meadows are a critical component of estuarine and coastal seascapes, and their structure influences fish assemblages at multiple spatial scales. The patch mosaic model, which defines the seascape as a collection of interacting habitat types, is increasingly adopted to prioritise protected areas and design ecological restoration schemes, hence helping to preserve seagrass meadows and the associated fish assemblages. Despite that, there are few studies investigating the relative contribution of environmental characteristics measured at different spatial scales in determining the distribution of seagrass fish. This study collects fish and environmental observations taken at both site and seascape scales in seagrass meadows in the Venice lagoon (Adriatic Sea, Italy). By means of generalised linear models, it aims to disentangle the relative influence of local water quality and habitat characteristics from that of habitat mosaic properties, investigating the response of whole fish assemblage descriptors, feeding guilds and dominant species. While confirming the primary importance of local habitat quality, the study highlights that also seagrass habitat structure at the seascape scale is relevant for seagrass fish assemblages, influencing total biomass, biomass of macrobenthivorous and hyperbenthivorous/piscivorous species and seagrass specialists such as syngnathids. Conservation of seagrass fish assemblages can therefore be promoted in Mediterranean coastal lagoons by preserving or restoring some features of the habitat mosaic, namely the extension of seagrass patches and their shape complexity, in addition to local water quality and seagrass cover.


Transitional waters Patch mosaic Seagrass meadows Management Restoration 



This study was partially funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (PRIN grant 2009W2395), by Corila (Consorzio Ricerche Lagunari) and by European Union’s LIFE+ financial instrument (grant LIFE12 NAT/IT/000331, which contributes to the environmental recovery of a Natura 2000 site, SIC IT3250031 - Northern Venice Lagoon).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Informatica e Statistica (DAIS)Università Ca’ Foscari VeneziaVeneziaItaly

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