Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-qpj69 Total loading time: 0.352 Render date: 2021-03-03T07:50:54.066Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Temporal changes of the meiofaunal assemblage as a tool for the assessment of the ecological quality status

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2014

F. Semprucci
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, della Vita e dell'Ambiente (DiSTeVA), Università di Urbino, loc. Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy
C. Sbrocca
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, della Vita e dell'Ambiente (DiSTeVA), Università di Urbino, loc. Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy
M. Rocchi
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, della Vita e dell'Ambiente (DiSTeVA), Università di Urbino, loc. Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy
M. Balsamo
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, della Vita e dell'Ambiente (DiSTeVA), Università di Urbino, loc. Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy


The Adriatic Sea, being a semi-closed and shallow basin, is more sensitive to anthropogenic impact than other areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Given the crucial role of meiofauna in the marine ecosystems, temporal series of data on this benthic assemblage are fundamental to give new insights into the health status of this basin. A data set (decade 2002–2012) on the meiofauna of two river mouths (Foglia and Metauro) close to a Natural Park (Monte San Bartolo, Central Adriatic Sea) has been analysed and related to several environmental parameters. In particular, changes in the meiofaunal structure, abundance and diversity have been investigated in order to evaluate possible variations of ecological quality status (EQS), in accordance with the Water Framework Directive. The structure of the meiofaunal assemblage appeared significantly different in the period studied, with a higher abundance of annelids in 2002 and an increase of nematodes in the following sampling campaigns. Among the faunal parameters, the Shannon and Pielou indices suggested a decline of the EQS over time, likely mainly due to the negative effect of chlorophyll-a peaks, which may highlight the influence of eutrophication phenomena and an enhancement of the organic matter supply. The lowering of the EQS of the study area suggests the need to intensify management and conservation efforts in the coastal systems, and supports the use of the meiofaunal assemblage as a useful bioindicator.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Albertelli, G., Covazzi-Harriague, A., Danovaro, R., Fabiano, M. and Fraschetti, S. (1999) Differential responses of bacteria, meiofauna and macrofauna in a shelf area (Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean): role of food availability. Journal of Sea Research 42, 1126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alves, A.S., Adão, H., Ferrero, T.J., Marques, J.C., Costa, M.J. and Patrício, J. (2013) Benthic meiofauna as indicator of ecological changes in estuarine ecosystems: the use of nematodes in ecological quality assessment. Ecological Indicators 24, 462475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ansari, K.G.M.T., Lyla, P.S., Ajmal Khan, S., Manokaran, S. and Raja, S. (2013) Community structure of harpacticoid copepods from the southeast continental shelf of India. Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 3, 87100.Google Scholar
Balsamo, M., Albertelli, G., Ceccherelli, V.U., Coccioni, R., Colangelo, M.A., Curini-Galletti, M., Danovaro, R., D'Addabbo, R., Leonardis, C., Fabiano, M., Frontalini, F., Gallo, M., Gambi, C., Guidi, L., Moreno, M., Pusceddu, A., Sandulli, R., Semprucci, F., Todaro, M.A. and Tongiorgi, P. (2010) Meiofauna of the Adriatic Sea: current state of knowledge and future perspectives. Chemistry and Ecology 26, 4563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Balsamo, M., Semprucci, F., Frontalini, F. and Coccioni, R. (2012) Meiofauna as a tool for marine ecosystem biomonitoring. In Cruzado, A. (ed.) Marine ecosystems. Rijecka, Croatia: InTech Publisher, pp. 77104.Google Scholar
Boon, A.R. and Duineveld, G.C.A. (1998) Chlorophyll a as a marker for bioturbation and carbon flux in Southern and Central North Sea sediments. Marine Ecology Progress Series 162, 3343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Borja, Á., Franco, J. and Pérez, V. (2000) A marine biotic index to establish the ecological quality of soft-bottom benthos within european estuarine and coastal environments. Marine Pollution Bulletin 12, 11001114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Borja, Á., Mader, J., Muxika, I., Germán Rodríguez, J. and Bald, J. (2008) Using M-AMBI in assessing benthic quality within the Water Framework Directive: some remarks and recommendations. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56, 13771379.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Buchanan, J.B. and Kain, J.M. (1971) Measurement of the physical and chemical environment. In Holme, N.A. and McIntyre, A.D. (eds) Methods for the study of marine benthos. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publication, pp. 3052.Google Scholar
Carriço, R., Zeppilli, D., Quillien, N. and Grall, J. (2013) Can meiofauna be a good biological indicator of the impacts of eutrophication caused by green macroalgal blooms? Anaod-les cahiers naturalistes de l'Observatoire Marin 2, 916.Google Scholar
Clarke, K.R. and Gorley, R.N. (2001) Primer Version 5. Plymouth: Primer-E.Google Scholar
Clarke, K.R. and Warwick, R.M. (2001) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation. 2nd edition.Plymouth: Primer-E.Google Scholar
Coull, B.C. and Chandler, G.T. (1992) Pollution and meiofauna: field, laboratory and mesocosm studies. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 30, 191271.Google Scholar
Covazzi-Harriague, A., Gaozza, L., Montella, A. and Misic, C. (2006) Benthic communities on a sandy Ligurian beach (NW Mediterranean). Hydrobiologia 571, 383394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danovaro, R., Dell'Anno, A. and Pusceddu, A. (2004) Biodiversity response to climate change in a warm deep sea. Ecology Letters 7, 821828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danovaro, R. and Pusceddu, A. (2007) Ecomanagement of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the Mediterranean Sea: concerns and strategies. Chemistry and Ecology 23, 347360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Troch, M., Roelofs, M., Riedel, B. and Grego, M. (2013) Structural and functional responses of harpacticoid copepods to anoxia in the Northern Adriatic: an experimental approach. Biogeosciences 10, 42594272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Wit, M.J.M. and Bendoricchio, G. (2001) Nutrient fluxes in the Po basin. Science of the Total Environment 273, 147161.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Frascari, F., Frignani, M., Guerzoni, S. and Ravaioli, M. (1988) Sediments and pollution in the Northern Adriatic Sea. Living in a chemical world. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 534, 10001020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frontalini, F. and Coccioni, R. (2008) Benthic foraminifera for heavy metal pollution monitoring: a case study from the central Adriatic Sea coast of Italy. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf and Science 76, 404417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frontalini, F., Semprucci, F., Coccioni, R., Balsamo, M., Bittoni, P. and Covazzi-Harriague, A. (2011) On the quantitative distribution and community structure of the meio and macrofaunal communities in the coastal area of the Central Adriatic Sea (Italy). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 180, 325344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giani, M., Djakovac, T., Degobbis, D., Cozzi, S., Solidoro, C. and Fonda Umani, S. (2012) Recent changes in the marine ecosystems of the northern Adriatic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 115, 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kennedy, A.D. and Jacoby, C.A. (1999) Biological indicators of marine environmental health: meiofauna a neglected benthic component? Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 54, 4768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, M.R., Correa, J.A. and Castilla, J.C. (2001) An assessment of the potential use of the nematode to copepod ratio in the monitoring of metals pollution. The Chañaral Case. Marine Pollution Bulletin 42, 696701.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Losi, V., Montefalcone, M., Moreno, M., Giovannetti, E., Gaozza, L., Grondona, M. and Albertelli, G. (2012) Nematodes as indicators of environmental quality in seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadows of the NW Mediterranean Sea. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology 3, 6991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McIntyre, A. D. and Warwick, R.M. (1984) Meiofauna techniques. In Holme, N.A. and McIntyre, A.D. (eds) Methods for the study of marine benthos. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 217244.Google Scholar
McLachlan, A. and Brown, A.C. (2006) The ecology of sandy shores. 2nd edition.Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
Mirto, S., La Rosa, T., Danovaro, R. and Mazzola, A. (2000) Microbial and meiofaunal response to intensive Mussel-Farm biodeposition in coastal sediments of the western Mediterranean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40, 244252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moreno, M., Ferrero, T.J., Gallizia, I., Vezzulli, L., Albertelli, G. and Fabiano, M. (2008) An assessment of the spatial heterogeneity of environmental disturbance within an enclosed harbour through the analysis of meiofauna and nematode assemblages. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 77, 565576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moreno, M., Semprucci, F., Vezzulli, L., Balsamo, M., Fabiano, M. and Albertelli, G. (2011) The use of nematodes in assessing ecological quality status in the Mediterranean coastal ecosystems. Ecological Indicators 11, 328336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Netto, S.A., Warwick, R.M. and Attrill, M.J. (1999) Meiobenthic and macrobenthic community structure in carbonate sediments of 732 Rocas Atoll (North-east, Brazil). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 48, 3950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Occhipinti-Ambrogi, A. (2002) Current status of aquatic introductions in Italy. In Leppakoski, E., Gollasch, S. and Olenin, S. (eds) Invasive Aquatic species of Europe. Distribution impacts and management. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 311324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Occhipinti-Ambrogi, A. (2007) Global change and marine communities: alien species and climate change. Marine Pollution Bulletin 55, 342352.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Occhipinti-Ambrogi, A., Savini, D. and Forni, G. (2005) Macrobenthos community structural changes off Cesenatico coast (Emilia Romagna, Northern Adriatic), a six-year monitoring programme. Science of the Total Environment 353, 317328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Penna, N., Cappellacci, S. and Ricci, F. (2004) The influence of the Po River discharge on phytoplankton bloom dynamics along the coastline of Pesaro (Italy) in the Adriatic Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin 48, 321326.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pérès, J.M. and Picard, J. (1964) Nouveau manuel de bionomie benthique de la Méditerranée. Recueil des travaux de la Station marine d'Endoume 31, 137.Google Scholar
Pusceddu, A., Gambi, C., Manini, E. and Danovaro, R. (2007) Trophic state, ecosystem efficiency and biodiversity of transitional aquatic ecosystems: analysis of environmental quality based on different benthic indicators. Chemistry and Ecology 23, 505515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Raes, M. and Vanreusel, A. (2006) Microhabitat types determine the composition of nematodes communities associated with sediment-clogged cold-water coral framework in the Porcupine Seabight (NE Atlantic). Deep-Sea Research 53, 18801894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Raffaelli, D.G. (1987) The behaviour of the nematode/copepod ratio in organic pollution studies. Marine Environmental Research 23, 135152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Raffaelli, D.G. and Mason, D.F. (1981) Pollution monitoring with meiofauna, using the ratio of nematodes to copepods. Marine Pollution Bulletin 12, 158163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schratzberger, M. (2012) On the relevance of meiobenthic research for policymakers. Marine Pollution Bulletin 64, 26392644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Semprucci, F. (2013) Marine nematodes from the shallow subtidal coast of the Adriatic Sea: species list and distribution. International Journal of Biodiversity 1, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Semprucci, F., Boi, P., Manti, A., Covazzi Harriague, A., Rocchi, M., Colantoni, P., Papa, S. and Balsamo, M. (2010a) Benthic communities along a littoral of the Central Adriatic Sea (Italy). Helgoland Marine Research 64, 101115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Semprucci, F., Colantoni, P., Baldelli, G., Rocchi, M. and Balsamo, M. (2010b) The distribution of meiofauna on back-reef sandy platforms in the Maldives (Indian Ocean). Marine Ecology: an Evolutionary Perspective 31, 592607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Semprucci, F., Frontalini, F., Covazzi-Harriague, A., Coccioni, R. and Balsamo, M. (2013a) Meio- and Macrofauna in the marine area of the Monte St. Bartolo Natural Park (Central Adriatic Sea, Italy). Scientia Marina 77, 189199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Semprucci, F., Moreno, M., Sbrocca, S., Rocchi, M., Albertelli, G. and Balsamo, M. (2013b) The nematode assemblage as a tool for the assessment of marine ecological quality status: a case-study in the Central Adriatic Sea. Mediterranean Marine Science 14, 4857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Simboura, N. and Zenetos, A. (2002) Benthic indicators to use in ecological quality classification of Mediterranean soft bottoms marine ecosystems, including a new biotic index. Mediterranean Marine Science 3/2, 77111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steyaert, M., Garner, N., Gansbeke, D. and Vincx, M. (1999) Nematode communities from the North Sea: environmental controls on species diversity and vertical distribution within the sediment. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 79, 253264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steyaert, M., Moodley, L., Vanaverbeke, J., Vandewiele, S. and Vincx, M. (2005) Laboratory experiments on the infaunal activity of intertidal nematodes. Hydrobiologia 540, 217223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steyaert, M., Vanaverbeke, J., Vanreusel, A., Barranguet, C., Lucas, C. and Vincx, M. (2003) The importance of fine-scale, vertical profiles in characterizing nematode community structure. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 58, 353366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vanaverbeke, J., Gheskiere, T., Steyaert, M. and Vincx, M. (2002) Nematode assemblages from subtidal sandbanks in the Southern Bight of the North Sea: effect of small sedimentological differences. Journal of Sea Research 48, 197207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vanaverbeke, J., Merckx, B., Degraer, S. and Vincx, M. (2011) Sediment-related distribution patterns of nematodes and macrofauna: two sides of the benthic coin? Marine Environmental Research 71, 3140.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vanaverbeke, J., Soetaert, K. and Vincx, M. (2004a) Changes in morphometric characteristics of nematode communities during a spring phytoplankton bloom deposition. Marine Ecology Progress Series 273, 139146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vanaverbeke, J., Steyaert, M., Soetaert, K., Rousseau, V., Van Gansbeke, D., Parent, J.Y. and Vincx, M. (2004b) Changes in structural and functional diversity of nematode communities during a spring phytoplankton bloom in the southern North Sea. Journal of Sea Research 52, 281292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vezzulli, L., Marrale, D., Moreno, M. and Fabiano, M. (2003) Sediment organic matter and meiofauna community response to long-term fish-farm impact in the Ligurian Sea (Western Mediterranean). Chemistry and Ecology 19, 431440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, X.H. and Pinardi, N. (2002) Modeling the dynamics of sediment transport and resuspension in the northern Adriatic Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research 107, 3225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wetzel, M.A., Fleeger, J.W. and Powers, S.P. (2001) Effects of hypoxia and anoxia on meiofauna: a review with new data from the Gulf of Mexico. In Rabalais, N.N. and Turner, R.E. (eds) Coastal hypoxia: consequences for living resources and ecosystems. Coastal and estuarine studies. Volume 58. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union, pp. 165184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Semprucci Supplementary Material

Appendix A

File 108 KB

Semprucci Supplementary Material

Figure 5

Image 11 MB

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 80 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 3rd March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Temporal changes of the meiofaunal assemblage as a tool for the assessment of the ecological quality status
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Temporal changes of the meiofaunal assemblage as a tool for the assessment of the ecological quality status
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Temporal changes of the meiofaunal assemblage as a tool for the assessment of the ecological quality status
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *