The aim of the study was to describe epibenthic macroinvertebrates and demersal fish and to identify links between spatial patterns and habitat characteristics (sediment, salinity, oxygen and temperature). The research was performed in the Parila lagoon in Croatia; an important nursery ground where conditions in epibenthic community can have significant direct and indirect impact on fisheries. Diversity (30 species) and abundance (from 0 to 7 ind m−2) of epibenthic assemblages was low on all stations and showed remarkable seasonal changes. Such patchiness could support the estuarine quality paradox idea, i.e. the most abundant species are well adapted to changing conditions in a variable environment. The ecological analysis showed that total phosphorus concentration (TP), temperature (T) and salinity (S) were the main environmental parameters affecting community structure of the Parila lagoon. Six species listed as frequent (Nerophis ophidion, Zosterisessor ophiocephalus, Syngnathus typhle, Cerastoderma glaucum, Palaemon adspersus and Carcinus aestuarii) have a potential to be used as indicators of habitat quality. In terms of trophic diversity, community was dominated by carnivores and omnivores. Fish trophic index (above 2.7) indicated upward shift of the local food chain and towards mostly carnivorous species, while the absence of herbivorous species pointed to low environmental quality. The present study gives an insight into the current ecological conditions in the Parila lagoon. Further research about the sensitivity of these potential indicators to different types of pressure is necessary in order to select robust early-warning indicators framework.
Journal of Coastal Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 2017
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