Salinity as a Key Factor in Structuring Macrophyte Assemblages in Transitional Water Bodies: The Case of the Apulian Coastal Lagoons (Southern Italy)

Andrea Tursi, Anna Lisco, Giovanni Chimienti, Francesco Mastrototaro, Nicola Ungaro, Antonella Bottalico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal lagoons are dynamic transitional water ecosystems hosting valuable biological communities, including rich and diverse macrophyte assemblages. Aquatic macrophytes must cope with large fluctuations of environmental conditions on a spatial and seasonal scale. Salinity is one of the most variable parameters, changing from nearly freshwater to hypersalinity, and it is known to have a strong influence on the composition and structure of macrophyte assemblages. This study is focused on the effect of salinity on macrophyte communities of the eight most important coastal lagoons of Apulia (south-eastern Mediterranean Sea). A set of eleven transitional water body types (sensu Water Framework Directive) were allocated in a range of meso- to hyperhaline lagoons. Macrophyte sampling was carried out between 2011 and 2019, and a total of 324 samples (18 sampling stations × 2 seasons × 9 years) was analyzed. Then, macrophyte occurrence in each transitional water body (T-WB) was expressed as frequency values (%) and assemblages were compared to assess any similarity in relation to four salinity classes (mesohaline, polyhaline, euhaline and hyperhaline). Species richness varied according to the salinity class, being much higher in polyhaline and euhaline T-WBs and strongly decreasing at the extremes of the salinity range (mesohaline and hyperhaline T-WBs). Moreover, the statistical analysis showed a high resemblance of macrophyte assemblages of T-WBs within the same salinity class, which shared a great number of species. Four distinct macrophyte communities were distinguished, reflecting the salinity conditions of different T-WB types and confirming the effectiveness of a lagoon typology based on this descriptor.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-05-04
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the Apulian Regional Agency for the Environmental Prevention and Protection, Research Agreement “Monitoring of Biological Quality Elements (BQEs) macroalgae and phanerogams in the Apulian transitional waters. CUP: B31G22000110002.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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