Long-term changes in a benthic assemblage associated with artificial reefs

  • L. Nicoletti
  • S. Marzialetti
  • D. Paganelli
  • G. D. Ardizzone
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 193)


The aim of the study was to evaluate the long-term development of a hard bottom benthic assemblage over a period of 20 years in an area off the mouth of a large river. The artificial reef of Fregene was selected because benthic assemblage data were available for the period 1981–1992. This artificial reef is located in the mid Tyrrhenian Sea, 5 nautical miles north of the two mouths of the Tevere River (Latium, Italy) and 1.5 nautical miles offshore from Fregene (Rome, Italy). The artificial reef was deployed in March 1981 for fisheries enhancement in 10–14 m of water on a sandy-silty seabed. The Tevere River carries suspended materials and a heavy load of organics since it transports Rome’s effluent, resulting in the eutrophic state of area waters. Benthic sampling was conducted in 2001 by SCUBA diving; two standard surfaces of 400 cm2 were scraped from the vertical walls of the same uppermost block in four different periods. All organisms were identified and counted. The methodology used is the same as that adopted in the previous periods, so that the 2001 data could be compared with past collected data. The benthic assemblage was analysed by cluster analysis using the Bray-Curtis index and clustered using the group average clustering algorithm. The SIMPER procedure was used to identify those taxa that characterize each station group identified by cluster analysis. Changes in benthic assemblages and hydrological trends of the Tevere River were investigated using the cumulative sum series method. The 20-year development of the benthic community, starting from the new substratum, is composed of different phases characterised by different benthic assemblages. In particular five different phases were distinguished: 1. Pioneer species recruitment (May 1981–June 1981); 2. Mytilus galloprovincialis (mussel) dominance (August 1981–November 1983); 3. M. galloprovincialis regression (July 1984–October 1985); 4. M. galloprovincialis absence (91–92); 5. Bryozoans bioconstruction dominance (2001). The dynamic succession of the observed benthic assemblages exhibited a good relation with the Tevere River flow. The Tevere River flow, and the subsequent sedimentation process, seems to have strongly influenced the benthic assemblage succession of the Fregene artificial reef.


Temporal evolution Benthic assemblage Artificial reef Tyrrhenian Sea River flow Long-term changes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Nicoletti
    • 1
  • S. Marzialetti
    • 1
  • D. Paganelli
    • 1
  • G. D. Ardizzone
    • 2
  1. 1.ICRAMRomeItaly
  2. 2.University “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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