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Biological benthic tools as indicators of coastal marine ecosystems health
Magni, P. (2003). Biological benthic tools as indicators of coastal marine ecosystems health. Chem. Ecol. 19(5): 363-372
In: Chemistry and Ecology. Gordon and Breach: New York. ISSN 0275-7540, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Biodiversity; Indicator species; Sediments; Total organic carbon; Marine

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Abstract
    Coastal marine ecosystems are increasingly subjected to environmental stress and degradation due to pollution. Several research programmes have addressed this problem and produced relevant data sets for specific areas, often including consistent sets of environmental and biological variables. The value of existing information gathered from these types of data can be largely increased by combining them into a common data set to determine globally applicable relationships. To perform this exercise, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has recently formed the Ad hoc Study Group on Benthic Indicators (http://www.ioc.unesco.org/benthicindicators) with the aim of developing robust indicators of benthic health. In this paper, initial products and ongoing activities of this international initiative are described and discussed. An expansion of initial IOC/UNESCO research on benthic fauna-organic carbon relationships is also presented. As part of this follow-up research, the relationship between total organic carbon concentrations of sediment and abundance, biomass and species diversity of benthic macrofauna was evaluated using data sets from 2 different regions of the world comprising 3 different coastal marine environments. The ability of identifying threshold levels in selected variables that could serve as indicators of related adverse environmental conditions leading to stress in the benthos is envisaged within the frame of a larger joint analysis, carried out by the IOC/UNESCO Study Group on Benthic Indicators, of merged data sets from several coastal regions worldwide.

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