Effects of climate, invasive species and anthropogenic impacts on the growth of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile in Liguria (NW Mediterranean Sea)

Andrea Peirano, Valentina Damasso, Monica Montefalcone, Carla Morri, Carlo Nike Bianchi

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Eight shallow water Posidonia oceanica meadows were sampled in June 1999 along 300 km of the Ligurian coast and were compared through shoot density and lepidochronology. The growth of the seagrass was examined in the light of climate fluctuations and local stresses, colonisation by alien, invasive alga Caulerpa taxifolia, and effects of the oil spill from the tanker "Haven", and other anthropogenic impacts. Both shoot density and lepidochronology pointed to a generalised state of regression of all the meadows. The analysis of long-term growth curves of the rhizomes showed a positive trend parallel to the increase of air temperature. Two main groups of meadows were individuated on the basis of growth curve similarity. The first included four meadows, namely Ventimiglia, Imperia, Noli and Prelo, that were characterised by average values of rhizome growth of 8-9.1 mm year-1and shoot density greater than 200 shoots m-2. Although the Imperia meadow was the only one where the alien invasive alga C. taxifolia was found, it did not show differences for rhizome growth in comparison to the other meadows. The second group was formed by meadows that had suffered past anthropogenic impacts: Arenzano and Monterosso al Mare. They showed higher rhizome growth rates (9.4-10.6 mm year-1) and shoot densities between 200 and 100 shoots m-2. At Arenzano, where "Haven" oil was stranded in April 1991, no rhizome older than 8 years was found, thus confirming the shoot mortality induced by the oil spill event. The two last meadows exhibited growth curves very different from all the others: Portovenere, is a shallow meadow where P. oceanica merely survives in an extremely degraded situation with highest rhizome growth rate (12 mm year-1), the other, Riva Trigoso, is the only meadow implanted on rock and had the lowest growth rates (7.1 mm year-1). © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817 - 822
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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