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Composition, abundance and stratification of macrobenthos in the marine area impacted by tar aggregates derived from the Haven oil spill (Ligurian Sea, Italy)
Guidetti, P.; Modena, M.; La Mesa, G.; Vacchi, M. (2000). Composition, abundance and stratification of macrobenthos in the marine area impacted by tar aggregates derived from the Haven oil spill (Ligurian Sea, Italy). Mar. Pollut. Bull. 40(12): 1161-1166
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Guidetti, P., more
  • Modena, M.
  • La Mesa, G.
  • Vacchi, M.

Abstract
    The impact of tar aggregates deriving from the Haven oil spill that occurred in 1991 on the soft-bottom macrobenthos off Arenzano (Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean; Italy) was investigated in this study. Core samples were collected to evaluate the composition, abundance and stratification of macrobenthos in three contaminated and three control sites. The distribution of tar aggregates (often settled by hydroids, bryozoans and serpulids) in the impacted area did not show distinct patterns related to sediment depth. The macrobenthos was numerically dominated by polychaetes, followed by crustaceans (amphipods, isopods and tanaids) and sipunculids, whereas bivalve molluscs were less represented. Ophiuroids and nemerteans were only occasionally found. Stratification was the main factor explaining the distribution of benthic invertebrates, highest abundances being observed in the upper 5 cm of sediment, while densities of individuals declined sharply in deeper sediment layers. No significant differences were observed in the abundance of both the whole benthic assemblage and of the main benthic taxonomic groups between contaminated and control sites. The higher abundance of sipunculids at the contaminated sites, instead, was attributed to the availability of empty tubes of polychaetes in which they take refuge. The polychaetes/amphipods ratios did not show strong differences between impacted and control sites. Multivariate analysis (MDS) showed a wide scattering among deep bottom samples and a comparatively high similarity among intermediate and superficial layers, regardless of the contamination level. In conclusion, the results reported here suggest that tar aggregates do not determine appreciable detrimental effects on the soft-bottom macrobenthos, which appeared to have recovered towards natural pristine conditions.

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