Coastal lagoons can be characterised by strong environmental changes along the outer marine-inner brackish gradient, which are reflected in the patterns of distribution of organisms and composition of assemblages. Close to the sea the assemblages are dominated by marine animals, while in the innermost confined areas, there would be estuarine taxa and organisms typical of organically-enriched areas. During the last decades, human impact has been severe in these habitats and has often profoundly altered the distribution of animals and plants along the gradient. In this study we have analysed the distribution of macrofauna along the outer marine-inner brackish gradient in five Italian lagoons, affected by severe human disturbance on the Adriatic, Tyrrhenian and Sardinian coasts. We aimed to measure changes in the composition of assemblages according to the distance from the sea, consistent among lagoons and time, after the occurrence of eutrophication, repeated distrophic crisis and other human interventions. We considered existing data from campaigns done during 1994, 1995 and 1999. We arranged different datasets according to the available data, in order to measure the spatial distribution of macrofauna genera with distance from the sea and through time. Analyses showed differences among assemblages related to the gradient. Nevertheless, the species characterizing the assemblages were all typical of organically-enriched areas, which testified to an impoverishment of diversity and functioning of all these systems. [KEYWORDS: Coastal lagoons ; eutrophication ; Italian coast ; macrofauna ; Mediterranean ; spatial distribution]
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology
Journal publication date2006

ID: 309022