Detritus-based assemblage responses under salinity stress conditions in a disused aquatic artificial ecosystem

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Abstract

Background: Despite the plethora of approaches, the sensitivity of the methods to measure the relationship between the abundance and biomass curves in stressed detritus-based ecosystems still remain to be refined. In this work, we report the comparison between biomass and abundance in a set of detritus-based macrozoobenthic assemblages located in six sampling pools with different salinity in an artificial aquatic ecosystem (disused Tarquinia Saltworks), using two diversity/dominance approaches (Abundance/Biomass Comparisons, or ABC, and Whittaker plots). We also evaluated the contribution of abundances and biomasses diversity (Simpson index) and nestedness, which measures the order by which macroinvertebrates colonized the detrital resource.Results: The outputs obtained by both ABC curves and Whittaker plots highlight two different thresholds in assemblage structure: between about 44 and 50 practical salinity unit (psu) and between 50 and 87 psu, respectively. The first threshold was due to a turnover in taxon composition between assemblages, the second threshold (evidenced by Whittaker plots) was due to a change in taxon richness (lower in pools with higher salinity: i.e. > 50 psu). Moreover, a normal-shaped pattern in diversity (Simpson index) emerged, suggestive of an intermediate disturbance effect. The nested pattern did not show significant differences when considering the density and biomass of the sampled taxa, providing similar threshold of salinity in the relative contribution of macrozoobenthos on nestedness.Conclusions: The use of detailed (ABC and Whittaker plots) and macroscopic (Simpson index and nestedness) approaches is proposed to identify thresholds in the structuring and functioning of detritus-based community of disused aquatic ecosystems: in particular, the inclusion of the parameter of biomass (scarcely utilized in community-based research) appears crucial. The responses of macrozoobenthic assemblages to the salinity stress conditions, in term of abundance and biomass, using a detritus food source (Phragmites australis leaves), may also highlight, by comparing macroscopic and detailed approaches, structuring and functioning patterns to consider for the management of disused artificial ecosystems. © 2013 Cerfolli et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Cerfolli, F., Bellisario, B., & Battisti, C. (2013). Detritus-based assemblage responses under salinity stress conditions in a disused aquatic artificial ecosystem. Aquatic Biosystems, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-9063-9-22

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