Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 May 2019) | Viewed by 42938

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Sciences, Computer Science and Statistics, University of Ca' Foscari Venice, Campus scientifico, Via Torino 155, I-30172 Venice, VE, Italy
Interests: anthropogenic impacts; ecological status; environmental parameters; microalgae; transitional and coastal environments

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Transitional waters are highly productive ecosystems with a long history of anthropogenic exploitation (fishing, naval traffic, land reclamation, waste water discharge, agricultural drainage, morphological interventions, etc.), that has compromised their natural equilibrium. In Europe, the Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000/60/EC) drew particular attention to the ecological status of such environments, requiring assessment tools based mainly on biological communities (microalgae, macrophytes, benthic invertebrates and fish fauna). As a consequence, the scientific community intensified the study of such ecosystems in order to provide the necessary assessment tools to guarantee their management. This Special Issue will update the knowledge on ecological status assessments in transitional waters, including not only the research that meets the WFD requirements, but all papers that can deepen our knowledge of this topic on a global scale. Studies are welcome that describe: i) how biological communities (including communities not foreseen in the WFD, i.e. microbial and zooplanktonic communities) can be used to evaluate ecological status; ii) how anthropogenic pressures can affect the ecological equilibrium; and iii) examples of ecological status assessment programmes.

Dr. Chiara FACCA
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • transitional waters
  • biological communities
  • ecological indicators
  • ecological status
  • anthropogenic impacts
  • assessment programmes
  • monitoring activities

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

5 pages, 187 KiB  
Editorial
Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters
by Chiara Facca
Water 2020, 12(11), 3159; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113159 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1624
Abstract
Transitional Waters are worldwide high valuable ecosystems that have undergone significant anthropogenic impacts. The ecological assessment is therefore of fundamental importance to protect, manage and restore these ecosystems. Numerous approaches can be used to understand the effects of human pressures, and, in case, [...] Read more.
Transitional Waters are worldwide high valuable ecosystems that have undergone significant anthropogenic impacts. The ecological assessment is therefore of fundamental importance to protect, manage and restore these ecosystems. Numerous approaches can be used to understand the effects of human pressures, and, in case, the effectiveness of recovery plans. Eutrophication, climate change and morphological loss impacts can be assessed by means of aquatic vegetation, benthic fauna, and nekton. Moreover, before planning new infrastructures or interventions, predictive approaches and statistical analyses can provide indispensable tools for management policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)

Research

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14 pages, 4081 KiB  
Article
Aquatic Angiosperm Transplantation: A Tool for Environmental Management and Restoring in Transitional Water Systems
by Adriano Sfriso, Alessandro Buosi, Yari Tomio, Abdul-Salam Juhmani, Chiara Facca, Andrea Augusto Sfriso, Piero Franzoi, Luca Scapin, Andrea Bonometto, Emanuele Ponis, Federico Rampazzo, Daniela Berto, Claudia Gion, Federica Oselladore, Federica Cacciatore and Rossella Boscolo Brusà
Water 2019, 11(10), 2135; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102135 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3237
Abstract
Since the 1960s, the Venice Lagoon has suffered a sharp aquatic plant constriction due to eutrophication, pollution, and clam fishing. Those anthropogenic impacts began to decline during the 2010s, and since then the ecological status of the lagoon has improved, but in many [...] Read more.
Since the 1960s, the Venice Lagoon has suffered a sharp aquatic plant constriction due to eutrophication, pollution, and clam fishing. Those anthropogenic impacts began to decline during the 2010s, and since then the ecological status of the lagoon has improved, but in many choked areas no plant recolonization has been recorded due to the lack of seeds. The project funded by the European Union (LIFE12 NAT/IT/000331-SeResto) allowed to recolonize one of these areas, which is situated in the northern lagoon, by widespread transplantation of small sods and individual rhizomes. In-field activities were supported by fishermen, hunters, and sport associations; the interested surface measured approximately 36.6 km2. In the 35 stations of the chosen area, 24,261 rhizomes were transplanted during the first year, accounting for 693 rhizomes per station. About 37% of them took root in 31 stations forming several patches that joined together to form extensive meadows. Plant rooting was successful where the waters were clear and the trophic status low. But, near the outflows of freshwater rich in nutrients and suspended particulate matter, the action failed. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of small, widespread interventions and the importance of engaging the population in the recovery of the environment, which makes the action economically cheap and replicable in other similar environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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18 pages, 2984 KiB  
Article
Trophic Features, Benthic Recovery, and Dominance of the Invasive Mytilopsis Sallei in the Yundang Lagoon (Xiamen, China) Following Long-Term Restoration
by Paolo Magni, Serena Como, Maria Flavia Gravina, Donghui Guo, Chao Li and Lingfeng Huang
Water 2019, 11(8), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081692 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3703
Abstract
A comprehensive set of physicochemical variables in near-bottom water and surface sediments, as well as the soft-bottom macrozoobenthic assemblages were investigated at six sites across the Yundang Lagoon (Southeast China) in November 2012. This lagoon was severely damaged in the 1970s due to [...] Read more.
A comprehensive set of physicochemical variables in near-bottom water and surface sediments, as well as the soft-bottom macrozoobenthic assemblages were investigated at six sites across the Yundang Lagoon (Southeast China) in November 2012. This lagoon was severely damaged in the 1970s due to domestic and industrial pollution and land reclamation and underwent a massive restoration effort over the past 30 years. Our objectives were to: (1) assess the current trophic and environmental condition of the lagoon; (2) investigate the pattern of spatial variation in the macrozoobenthic assemblages; and (3) assess the benthic recovery in relation to the main environmental gradients and the presence of invasive alien species. Nutrient, chlorophyll-a, biological oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (CODMn), and total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations were lower than those reported in previous decades, yet organically-enriched conditions occurred at an inner site. From azoic conditions in the 1980s and a few benthic species reported prior to this study, we found a significant increase in benthic diversity with 43 species heterogeneously distributed across the lagoon. The invasive bivalve Mytilopsis sallei was the dominant species, which was associated with the richest benthic assemblage. However, M. sallei is a pest species, and its spatiotemporal distribution should be carefully monitored. These results highlight the central role of the macrozoobenthos in providing important ecological information on the current status of the Yundang Lagoon and as an effective biological tool to follow the recovery’s progress and the future evolution of this highly valued ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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14 pages, 5273 KiB  
Article
Balance between the Reliability of Classification and Sampling Effort: A Multi-Approach for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) Ecological Status Applied to the Venice Lagoon (Italy)
by Federica Cacciatore, Andrea Bonometto, Elisa Paganini, Adriano Sfriso, Marta Novello, Paolo Parati, Massimo Gabellini and Rossella Boscolo Brusà
Water 2019, 11(8), 1572; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081572 - 29 Jul 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2837
Abstract
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires Member States to assess the ecological status of water bodies and provide an estimation of the classification confidence and precision. This study tackles the issue of the uncertainty in the classification, due to the spatial variability within [...] Read more.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires Member States to assess the ecological status of water bodies and provide an estimation of the classification confidence and precision. This study tackles the issue of the uncertainty in the classification, due to the spatial variability within each water body, proposing an analysis of the reliability of classification, using the results of macrophyte WFD monitoring in the Venice Lagoon as case study. The level of classification confidence, assessed for each water body, was also used as reference to optimize the sampling effort for the subsequent monitorings. The ecological status of macrophytes was calculated by the Macrophyte Quality Index at 114 stations located in 11 water bodies. At water body scale, the level of classification confidence ranges from 54% to 100%. After application of the multi-approach (inferential statistics, spatial analyses, and expert judgment), the optimization of the sampling effort resulted in a reduction of the number of stations from 114 to 84. The decrease of sampling effort was validated by assessing the reliability of classification after the optimization process (54–99%) and by spatial interpolation of data (Kernel standard error of 22.75%). The multi-approach proposed in this study could be easily applied to any other water body and biological quality element. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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16 pages, 2172 KiB  
Article
Meiofaunal Dynamics and Heterogeneity along Salinity and Trophic Gradients in a Mediterranean Transitional System
by Federica Semprucci, Maria Flavia Gravina and Paolo Magni
Water 2019, 11(7), 1488; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071488 - 18 Jul 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3022
Abstract
The spatiotemporal variation in meiofaunal assemblages were investigated for the first time in the Cabras Lagoon, the largest transitional system in the Sardinian Island (W-Mediterranean Sea). Two main environmental (salinity and trophic) gradients highlighted a significant separation of the three study sites across [...] Read more.
The spatiotemporal variation in meiofaunal assemblages were investigated for the first time in the Cabras Lagoon, the largest transitional system in the Sardinian Island (W-Mediterranean Sea). Two main environmental (salinity and trophic) gradients highlighted a significant separation of the three study sites across the lagoon, which were consistent through time. The environmental variability and habitat heterogeneity of the Cabras Lagoon influenced the meiofauna. In particular, salinity and dissolved oxygen, primarily, shaped the meiofaunal assemblage structure at the seaward site which was significantly different from both the riverine and the organically enriched sites. On the other hand, the trophic components (e.g., organic matter, Chlorophyll-a, and phaeopigments) and the different degrees of confinement and saprobity among sites were the secondary factors contributing mostly to the separation between the latter two sites. The lack of significant differences in the temporal comparison of the meiofaunal assemblage structure along with the very low contribution of temperature to the meiofaunal ordination indicated that this assemblage was more affected by spatial rather than by temporal variation. This pattern was also supported by significant differences between the three sites in several univariate measures, including total number of individuals, number of taxa, Pielou’s evenness, and the ratio between nematodes and copepods. Thus, the present study corroborates the hypothesis that meiofaunal organisms are good indicators of the spatial heterogeneity in transitional waters (TWs) and could have a greater species richness than that expected. Indeed, the Cabras Lagoon overall showed one of the highest meiofaunal richness values found from both Mediterranean and European TWs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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22 pages, 4662 KiB  
Article
Expected Shifts in Nekton Community Following Salinity Reduction: Insights into Restoration and Management of Transitional Water Habitats
by Luca Scapin, Matteo Zucchetta, Andrea Bonometto, Alessandra Feola, Rossella Boscolo Brusà, Adriano Sfriso and Piero Franzoi
Water 2019, 11(7), 1354; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071354 - 29 Jun 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3315
Abstract
A restoration project is planned to take place in the northern Venice lagoon (northern Adriatic Sea, Italy), aiming at introducing freshwater into a confined shallow water lagoon area and recreating transitional water habitats. This work describes the shifts in the nekton (fish and [...] Read more.
A restoration project is planned to take place in the northern Venice lagoon (northern Adriatic Sea, Italy), aiming at introducing freshwater into a confined shallow water lagoon area and recreating transitional water habitats. This work describes the shifts in the nekton (fish and decapods) community structure to be expected following the future salinity decrease in the restoration area. Nekton was sampled at a series of natural shallow water sites located along salinity gradients in the Venice lagoon. A multivariate GLM approach was followed in order to predict species biomass under the salinity and environmental conditions expected after restoration. Biomass of commercially important species, as well as species of conservation interest, is predicted to increase following salinity reduction and habitat changes. From a functional perspective, an increase in biomass of hyperbenthivores-zooplanctivores, hyperbenthivores-piscivores and detritivores is also expected. This study emphasises the efficacy of a predictive approach for both ecological restoration and ecosystem management in transitional waters. By providing scenarios of community structure, the outcomes of this work could be employed in future evaluations of restoration success in the Venice lagoon, as well as to develop management tools to forecast the effects of alterations of salinity regimes in coastal lagoons due to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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16 pages, 3274 KiB  
Article
Contribution of Biological Effects to the Carbon Sources/Sinks and the Trophic Status of the Ecosystem in the Changjiang (Yangtze) River Estuary Plume in Summer as Indicated by Net Ecosystem Production Variations
by Yifan Zhang, Dewang Li, Kui Wang and Bin Xue
Water 2019, 11(6), 1264; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061264 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2761
Abstract
We conducted 24-h real-time monitoring of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients in the near-shore (M4-1), front (M4-8), and offshore (M4-13) regions of the 31° N section of the Changjiang (Yangtze) River estuary plume in summer. Carbon dioxide partial pressure changes caused by [...] Read more.
We conducted 24-h real-time monitoring of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and nutrients in the near-shore (M4-1), front (M4-8), and offshore (M4-13) regions of the 31° N section of the Changjiang (Yangtze) River estuary plume in summer. Carbon dioxide partial pressure changes caused by biological processes (pCO2bio) and net ecosystem production (NEP) were calculated using a mass balance model and used to determine the relative contribution of biological processes (including the release of CO2 from organic matter degradation by microbes and CO2 uptake by phytoplankton) to the CO2 flux in the Changjiang River estuary plume. Results show that seawater in the near-shore region is a source of atmospheric CO2, and the front and offshore regions generally serve as atmospheric CO2 sinks. In the mixed layer of the three regions, pCO2bio has an overall positive feedback effect on the air–sea CO2 exchange flux. The contribution of biological processes to the air–sea CO2 exchange flux (Cont) in the three regions changes to varying extents. From west to east, the daily means (±standard deviation) of the Cont are 32% (±40%), 34% (±216%), and 9% (±13%), respectively. In the front region, the Cont reaches values as high as 360%. Under the mixed layer, the daily means of potential Conts in the near-shore, front, and offshore regions are 34% (±43%), 8% (±13%), and 19% (±24%), respectively. The daily 24-hour means of NEP show that the near-shore region is a heterotrophic system, the front and offshore regions are autotrophic systems in the mixed layer, and all three regions are heterotrophic under the mixed layer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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26 pages, 4720 KiB  
Article
Modeling the Influence of Outflow and Community Structure on an Endangered Fish Population in the Upper San Francisco Estuary
by Gonzalo C. Castillo
Water 2019, 11(6), 1162; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061162 - 3 Jun 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3068
Abstract
The aim of this community modeling study was to evaluate potential mechanisms by which freshwater outflow in the upper San Francisco Estuary, CA, controls the fall habitat and abundance of subadult delta smelt Hypomesus transpacificus and its community. Through analyses of the community [...] Read more.
The aim of this community modeling study was to evaluate potential mechanisms by which freshwater outflow in the upper San Francisco Estuary, CA, controls the fall habitat and abundance of subadult delta smelt Hypomesus transpacificus and its community. Through analyses of the community matrix, community stability and the direction of change of community variables were qualitatively and quantitatively modeled under four outflow–input scenarios. Three subsystems were modeled in the low salinity zone (1–6 psu), each overlapping the location corresponding to the distance from the mouth of the estuary to upstream positions where the near-bottom 2 psu isohaline (X2) is at 74, 81, and 85 km (corresponding to high-, mid-, and low-outflows). Results suggested communities were qualitatively stable at each X2 position, but simulations showed the percent of stable models decreased from low- to high-X2 positions. Under all outflow–input scenarios, the predicted qualitative population responses of delta smelt were: (1) consistently positive for the low X2 position, and (2) uncertain under both mid- and high-X2 positions. Qualitative predictions were generally consistent with quantitative simulations and with the relations between relative abundance of delta smelt and X2. Thus, high outflow seems beneficial to subadult delta smelt when X2 reaches 74 km during fall. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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21 pages, 8500 KiB  
Article
Biological and Physical Effects of Brine Discharge from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and Implications for Future Desalination Plant Constructions
by Karen Lykkebo Petersen, Nadine Heck, Borja G. Reguero, Donald Potts, Armen Hovagimian and Adina Paytan
Water 2019, 11(2), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020208 - 25 Jan 2019
Cited by 51 | Viewed by 14510
Abstract
Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination is increasingly used as a technology for addressing shortages of freshwater supply and desalination plants are in operation or being planned world-wide and specifically in California, USA. However, the effects of continuous discharge of high-salinity brine into coastal [...] Read more.
Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination is increasingly used as a technology for addressing shortages of freshwater supply and desalination plants are in operation or being planned world-wide and specifically in California, USA. However, the effects of continuous discharge of high-salinity brine into coastal environments are ill-constrained and in California are an issue of public debate. We collected in situ measurements of water chemistry and biological indicators in coastal waters (up to ~2 km from shore) before and after the newly constructed Carlsbad Desalination Plant (Carlsbad, CA, USA) began operations. A bottom water salinity anomaly indicates that the spatial footprint of the brine discharge plume extended about 600 m offshore with salinity up to 2.7 units above ambient (33.2). This exceeds the maximum salinity permitted for this location based on the California Ocean Plan (2015 Amendment to Water Quality Control Plan). However, no significant changes in the assessed biological indicators (benthic macrofauna, BOPA-index, brittle-star survival and growth) were observed at the discharge site. A model of mean ocean wave potential was used as an indicator of coastal mixing at Carlsbad Beach and at other locations in southern and central CA where desalination facilities are proposed. Our results indicated that to minimize environmental impacts discharge should target waters where a long history of anthropogenic activity has already compromised the natural setting. To ensure adequate mixing of the discharge brine desalination plants should be constructed at high-energy sites with sandy substrates, and discharge through diffusor systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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Review

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26 pages, 410 KiB  
Review
Lagoon Resident Fish Species of Conservation Interest According to the Habitat Directive (92/43/CEE): A Review on Their Potential Use as Ecological Indicator Species
by Chiara Facca, Francesco Cavraro, Piero Franzoi and Stefano Malavasi
Water 2020, 12(7), 2059; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12072059 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3956
Abstract
Transitional waters are fragile ecosystems with high ecological, social and economic values, that undergo numerous threats. According to the information provided by European Member States in the framework of the European Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitat Directive), the main threat to these ecosystems is represented [...] Read more.
Transitional waters are fragile ecosystems with high ecological, social and economic values, that undergo numerous threats. According to the information provided by European Member States in the framework of the European Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitat Directive), the main threat to these ecosystems is represented by morphological and hydrological changes. The present work focuses on six lagoon fish species included in the Habitat Directive annex II (species requiring conservation measures: Aphanius fasciatus, A. iberus, Knipowitschia panizzae, Ninnigobius canestrinii, Valencia hispanica and V. letourneuxi) that spend their entire life cycle in the Mediterranean priority habitat 1150* “Coastal lagoons”. The overview of the current scientific literature allowed us to highlight how the presence and abundance of these species may provide important indications on the conservation status of coastal lagoon habitats. In fact, their occurrence, distribution and biology depend on the presence of peculiar structures, such as salt marshes, small channels, isolated pools and oligohaline areas. Coastal lagoon fragmentation and habitat loss have led to a significant reduction in genetic diversity or local population extinction. Although Aphanius and gobies have been shown to survive in eutrophic environments, it is clear that they cannot complete their life cycle without salt marshes (mainly Aphanius) and wetland areas (mainly gobies). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Status Assessment of Transitional Waters)
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