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Multiple environmental descriptors to assess ecological status of sensitive habitats in the area affected by the Costa Concordia shipwreck (Giglio Island, Italy)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2017

Marina Penna*
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Paola Gennaro
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Tiziano Bacci
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Benedetta Trabucco
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Enrico Cecchi
ARPAT, Regional Agency for Environmental Protection Tuscany, Via Marradi 114, 57100 Livorno, Italy
Cecilia Mancusi
ARPAT, Regional Agency for Environmental Protection Tuscany, Via Marradi 114, 57100 Livorno, Italy
Luigi Piazzi
Department of Nature and Territory Science, University of Sassari, Via Piandanna 4, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Francesco Sante Rende
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Fabrizio Serena
ARPAT, Regional Agency for Environmental Protection Tuscany, Via Marradi 114, 57100 Livorno, Italy IAMC – CNR U.O. Mazara del Vallo Via Vaccara 61, 91026 Trapani, Italy
Anna Maria Cicero
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
Correspondence should be addressed to: M. Penna, ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via Vitaliano Brancati, 60, 00144 Rome, Italy email:


The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the application of multiple environmental descriptors through an asymmetrical sampling design to detect possible impacts related to the Costa Concordia event on the coastal marine environment. The Costa Concordia shipwreck occurred on a submerged rocky reef in the north-western Mediterranean Sea and the wreck was removed 2 years later. To achieve the proposed objective two main coastal ecosystems, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica and coralligenous assemblages were studied using two ecological indices, PREI and ESCA, respectively. Both indices show a lower ecological quality in the disturbed sites compared with the control ones. Differences between the disturbed and control sites observed in both studied ecosystems would seem to indicate an increase of turbidity around the shipwreck as the most plausible cause of impact. The concurrent use of different ecological indices and asymmetrical sampling designs allowed detection of differences in ecological quality of the disturbed sites compared with the controls. This approach may represent an interesting tool to be employed in impact evaluation studies.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2017 

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