Lagoons and estuaries are ecosystems characterized by high biodiversity and high rates of primary productivity. On the other hand, these ecosystems are also considered to be one of the most vulnerable marine environments in the face of climate change and its effects.

In this study, a time series (1996-2015) of macrobenthic invertebrates data of Valli di Comacchio lagoon (northern Adriatic) was analysed using Biological Trait Analysis combined with other indices. The aims of the analysis were to test the resilience of the system and the influence of climate changes on macrobenthic dynamics.

The results show marked fluctuations in the benthic community, probably related to environmental instability of the lagoon. The authors found a general tendency towards a deterioration of ecological condition of the lagoon, with a decrease in species richness, diversity, percentage of sensitive species, and a general increase in the proportion of more opportunistic trait modalities.

It is stated that increasing temperature explained only a small part of the variability of macrobenthic community, which is likely to be explained mostly by the effect of natural fluctuations of environmental parameters and anthropogenic disturbance. Nevertheless, the authors highlight that all metrics used were consistent in identifying the response of benthic community to a severe disturbance, likely related to the summer heatwave in 2003.

It is concluded that the analysis used in the study, combined with more classical structural and ecological indices, proved to be efficient in identifying temporal changes of the community. And the authors suggest that the expected increase in frequency, magnitude and duration of heatwaves could pose serious threat to the resilience capacity of lagoonal macrobenthic community.

Pitacco V, Mistri M, Munari C (2018) Long-term variability of macrobenthic community in a shallow coastal lagoon (Valli di Comacchio, northern Adriatic): Is community resistant to climate changes? Marine Environmental Research 137:73-87