Wetlands are important centers of biodiversity. Coastal wetlands are subject to anthropogenic threats that can lead to biodiversity loss and consequent negative effects on nature conservation. We investigated relationships between wetland vegetation and habitat conditions in a coastal Nature Reserve in Northern Italy that has undergone seawater intrusion and eutrophication for several decades. The wetland vegetation in the Nature Reserve consisted of nine communities of hygrophytic and helophytic vegetation and five communities of waterplant vegetation. The hygrophytic and helophytic communities were arranged according to a salinity gradient, from salt-free habitats to strongly saline habitats. The saline habitats had high nutrient levels, due to the influx of nitrate-rich saltwater from an adjacent lagoon. The waterplant communities were all typical of freshwater habitats. Water-table depth and concentration of dissolved nutrients in the water were the main factors structuring waterplant vegetation. The main driver of future changes in the wetland vegetation of the Nature Reserve is the ongoing increase in salinity levels which may enhance expansion of halophilic species and communities, thus outcompeting locally rare freshwater species. If nutrient, especially nitrate, load further increases in the next future, this may exert negative effects on wetland species and communities preferring nutrient-poor habitats.

Wetland Plant Diversity in a Coastal Nature Reserve in Italy: Relationships with Salinization and Eutrophication and Implications for Nature Conservation

Gerdol, Renato
Primo
;
Brancaleoni, Lisa;
2018

Abstract

Wetlands are important centers of biodiversity. Coastal wetlands are subject to anthropogenic threats that can lead to biodiversity loss and consequent negative effects on nature conservation. We investigated relationships between wetland vegetation and habitat conditions in a coastal Nature Reserve in Northern Italy that has undergone seawater intrusion and eutrophication for several decades. The wetland vegetation in the Nature Reserve consisted of nine communities of hygrophytic and helophytic vegetation and five communities of waterplant vegetation. The hygrophytic and helophytic communities were arranged according to a salinity gradient, from salt-free habitats to strongly saline habitats. The saline habitats had high nutrient levels, due to the influx of nitrate-rich saltwater from an adjacent lagoon. The waterplant communities were all typical of freshwater habitats. Water-table depth and concentration of dissolved nutrients in the water were the main factors structuring waterplant vegetation. The main driver of future changes in the wetland vegetation of the Nature Reserve is the ongoing increase in salinity levels which may enhance expansion of halophilic species and communities, thus outcompeting locally rare freshwater species. If nutrient, especially nitrate, load further increases in the next future, this may exert negative effects on wetland species and communities preferring nutrient-poor habitats.
Gerdol, Renato; Brancaleoni, Lisa; Lastrucci, Lorenzo; Nobili, Giovanni; Pellizzari, Mauro; Ravaglioli, Michele; Viciani, Daniele
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2398935
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