Microphytobenthic community composition and primary production at gas and thermal vents in the Aeolian Islands (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy)

Sediment samplings were performed to investigate the microphytobenthic community and photosynthetic activity adaptations to gas emissions and higher temperature in the Aeolian Islands during a three-year period (2012–2014). Higher microphytobenthic densities were recorded at the vent stations and values were even more pronounced in relation with high temperature. The gross primary production estimates strongly depended on microphytobenthic abundance values reaching up to 45.79 ± 6.14 mgC m−2 h−1. High abundances were coupled with low community richness and diversity. Motile diatom living forms were predominant at all stations and the greatest differences among vent and reference stations were detected on the account of the tychopelagic forms. Morphological deformities and heavily silicified diatom frustules were also observed. A significant influence of the gas emission and high temperature on the phototrophic community was highlighted suggesting the Aeolian Islands as a good natural laboratory for studies on high CO2 and global warming effects.

Rogelja M., Cibic T., Pennesi C. & de Vittor C., in press. Microphytobenthic community composition and primary production at gas and thermal vents in the Aeolian Islands (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).

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