Functional biodiversity of marine soft-sediment polychaetes from two Mediterranean coastal areas in relation to environmental stress

F. Nasi, Marie Nordström, Erik Bonsdorff, R. Auriemma, T. Cibic, Del Negro P.

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Biological Traits Analysis (BTA) was used to identify functional features of infaunal polychaete assemblages associated with contamination in two Italian coastal areas: the harbour of Trieste (Adriatic Sea) and the Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Ionian Sea). The analysis was performed on 103 taxa, collected at four stations in each area. The two areas differed in species composition. The low diversity and the presence of stress-tolerant species in more polluted sites were not reflected in functional diversity, due to species contributing little to community functions or being functionally redundant. Sand and clay fractions were significant drivers of trait category expressions, however other environmental parameters (depth, total organic carbon and nitrogen, and Hg in sediments) influenced traits composition. Motile was the prevalent trait in environments with coarse sediments, and tube-builder were related to fine-grained ones. Motile, endobenthic and burrower were essential traits for living in contaminated sediments. Epibenthic and sessile polychaetes dominated at stations subjected to high organic loads. BTA offers an integrative approach to detect functional adaptations to contaminated sediments and multiple anthropogenic stressors.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)121–132
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Biological traits analysis
  • Polychaets
  • Soft-sediments
  • coastal areas

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