Seagrass meadow degradation and loss is one of the major threats to fish biodiversity in coastal marine and lagoon ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Pipefishes and seahorses (family Syngnathidae) are particularly affected by loss of seagrass meadows and other structured habitats, on which they rely for survival and reproduction. Despite their charismatic appearance and peculiar behaviour, their habitat ecology is still poorly understood in Mediterranean coastal waters. This study focuses on syngnathid assemblage composition and diversity in the shallow waters of the Venice lagoon (Italy), aiming at highlighting habitat preferences and providing insights into the conservation of biodiversity in these ecosystems. Generalized Additive Models were used in order to disentangle the potential effect of habitat typologies and different architectures of seagrass meadows from that of other environmental parameters. Most abundant taxa and whole syngnathid assemblage indicators were positively associated with seagrass meadows. Only few species, however, were seagrass specialists in shallow waters, and preferred meadows with taller canopies. Despite that, other structured habitats including short-leaved seagrass meadows and macroalgal beds were important for some species and overall assemblage diversity. Managers in Mediterranean coastal lagoons should thus limit human pressures that lead to the depletion of seagrass meadows, with particular attention to long- and broad-leaved species in less confined areas. Nevertheless, syngnathid assemblages would benefit from the preservation and restoration of the overall habitat diversity characterizing shallow waters in coastal lagoon. Future studies should aim at investigating the potential role of habitats at greater depths in supporting syngnathids.

Linking pipefishes and seahorses to seagrass meadows in the Venice lagoon: Implications for conservation

Scapin, Luca
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Cavraro, Francesco
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Malavasi, Stefano
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Riccato, Federico
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Zucchetta, Matteo
Data Curation
;
Franzoi, Piero
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
2018

Abstract

Seagrass meadow degradation and loss is one of the major threats to fish biodiversity in coastal marine and lagoon ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Pipefishes and seahorses (family Syngnathidae) are particularly affected by loss of seagrass meadows and other structured habitats, on which they rely for survival and reproduction. Despite their charismatic appearance and peculiar behaviour, their habitat ecology is still poorly understood in Mediterranean coastal waters. This study focuses on syngnathid assemblage composition and diversity in the shallow waters of the Venice lagoon (Italy), aiming at highlighting habitat preferences and providing insights into the conservation of biodiversity in these ecosystems. Generalized Additive Models were used in order to disentangle the potential effect of habitat typologies and different architectures of seagrass meadows from that of other environmental parameters. Most abundant taxa and whole syngnathid assemblage indicators were positively associated with seagrass meadows. Only few species, however, were seagrass specialists in shallow waters, and preferred meadows with taller canopies. Despite that, other structured habitats including short-leaved seagrass meadows and macroalgal beds were important for some species and overall assemblage diversity. Managers in Mediterranean coastal lagoons should thus limit human pressures that lead to the depletion of seagrass meadows, with particular attention to long- and broad-leaved species in less confined areas. Nevertheless, syngnathid assemblages would benefit from the preservation and restoration of the overall habitat diversity characterizing shallow waters in coastal lagoon. Future studies should aim at investigating the potential role of habitats at greater depths in supporting syngnathids.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3701216
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