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An ecosystem approach to understanding pollutant inputs, algal bloom and mucilage problems in the Adriatic Sea


The objectives are: to investigate the biological processes which form the basis for mass algal growth and mucilage formation in the north Adriatic Sea; to identify meteorological and climatic factors in the Po river and Adriatic basin which influence these processes; and to provide an ecosystem model of the north Adriatic Sea.

This project is intended as one contribution towards an envisaged holistic management model for the entire northern Adriatic Sea ecosystem regarding the algal blooms and mucilage problems. The biological and ecosystem approaches will include :
field and laboratory experiments to better understand the processes leading to microalgal blooms;
analysis of the structure of benthic communities and its relationship to algal blooms and mucilage formation;
and improvement of the database in view of its use for biological and ecological modelling.

The experimental work is intended to test the validity of the following 2 alternative hypotheses concerning the onset and development of exceptional algal blooms and the mucilage production. The first hypothesis postulates an increase in the growth rate and biomass of phytoplankton algae as a response to increases in nutrient supply. If there are certain nuisance phytoplankton species present, they may affect the pelagic grazers which in turn will result in increased phytoplankton biomass because of lowered grazing pressure. The alternative hypothesis assumes that nuisance blooms in the northern Adriatic were not resulting from phytoplankton activity but were due to large unstable mats of buoyant benthic diatoms and cyanobacteria which were loosened from their original substratum and wind drifted shorewards. Motile benthic diatoms on solid surface are expected to produce significant amounts of mucilage.

Results of laboratory experiments and field surveys on these hypotheses will be integrated, together with detailed physical, chemical and hydrological measurements and weather scenarios, in a predictive ecological submodel.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Ansaldo Industria SpA
Via Dei Pescatori 35
16129 Genova

Participants (4)

Consorzio per lo Studio ed il Monitoraggio dell'Ambiente Padano Adriatico
Via Lame 24
40122 Bologna
Istituto Centrale per la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica Applicata alla Pesca Marittima
Via L Respighi 5
00197 Roma
United Kingdom
St Anna Road, Wellesley Road 20-26
CR9 2UL Croydon
Queen Mary and Westfield College
United Kingdom

W1 London