Bathymetrical and temporal variations in soft-bottom molluscan assemblages in the coastal area facing the Sarno River mouth (Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Naples)

Luigia Donnarumma, Roberto Sandulli, Luca Appolloni, Federica Ferrigno, Francesco Rendina, Floriana Di Stefano, Giovanni Fulvio Russo



Molluscan assemblage of coastal area facing the very polluted Sarno River estuary to offshore (Gulf of Naples, Italy) was studied, focusing on temporal and depth-related distribution of species diversity, quali-quantitative composition and trophic guilds structure. A total of 9 stations, at depths ranging between 7 and 95m, were sampled in triplicate by means of a 0.17 m2 Van Veen grab in four sampling occasions (2 seasons, winter and summer, during 2 years, 2015 and 2016). A total of 1,744 individuals, belonging to 78 species and 3 classes (Bivalvia, Gastropoda and Scaphopoda), was recorded. Bivalves, followed by gastropods, qualitatively and quantitatively dominated the mollusc assemblages and both these taxonomic groups showed the highest values in the shallower stations down to about 25 m depth. In the deeper stations, only the bivalve taxon was dominant, even though exhibiting a much lower species richness and abundance. On the overall, the molluscan species were ascribed to 6 feeding guilds: Suspension and deposit feeders were the dominant trophic groups, occurring at all stations along the bathymetrical gradient, while predators, detritus feeders, ecto-parasites and scavengers were poorly represented and mainly occurred in the shallowest stations. The mollusc composition and distribution pattern along the bathymetrical gradient over time show signs of structural stability that might be mainly due to the continuous supply of organic matter from the river mouth expanding to all area. These results are of primary importance for filling the knowledge gaps on benthic biodiversity over a still poorly known and very fragile coastal area under continuous anthropogenic pressures mainly through the runoff of a very polluted river.


Benthic assemblages; trophic guilds; sediments; pollution; coastal environment; Gulf of Naples

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