The influence of coastal dynamics on the upper limit of the Posidonia oceanica meadow

Authors


Matteo Vacchi, DipTeRis, Department for the Study of the Territory and of its Resources, University of Genoa, Corso Europa 26, 16132 Genoa, Italy.E-mail: matteo.vacchi@unige.it

Abstract

The recognized ecological importance of Posidonia oceanica, the most important seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea, makes it crucial to assess the state of health of its meadows, discriminating natural from anthropogenic impacts. In this paper, the hydrodynamic conditions at the upper limit of P. oceanica meadows along the Ligurian coast (NW Mediterranean Sea) were investigated. A relationship between the distance of the upper limit of the meadow from the shoreline and the morphodynamic domain of the beach (i.e. distinctive types of beach produced by the topography, wave climate and sediment composition) was found. A zonation of the state of the shallow portions of the meadows down the submerged beach profile was identified. Zone a, from the shoreline to the breaking limit, is naturally critical for the development of the meadow. Zone b, from the breaking limit to the closure depth, is subjected to natural and human impacts. Zone c, below the closure depth, is little influenced by coastal dynamics. This study quantifies for the first time how much the status of the shallow portions of P. oceanica meadows is dependent on coastal dynamics, which is important for their proper management.

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