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Mar Pollut Bull. 2009 Dec;58(12):1850-9. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.07.018. Epub 2009 Aug 22.

Taxonomic sufficiency in the detection of natural and human-induced changes in marine assemblages: a comparison of habitats and taxonomic groups.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Universit√† del Salento, Lecce, CoNISMa, I-73100 Lecce, Italy.


Taxonomic Sufficiency (TS) is a promising analysis technique, particularly in light of the current need for rapid and reliable procedures in marine impact assessment and monitoring. However, generalizations are still difficult and there are few studies comparing the effectiveness of TS under different environmental settings. The present study investigates whether reduced taxonomy can be used to detect natural and human-driven patterns of variation in mollusk and polychaete assemblages from subtidal soft and hard bottoms in the Mediterranean. Results showed that, unlike in polychaetes, mollusk families represent effective taxonomic surrogates across a range of environmental contexts. These findings suggest that the mechanisms behind TS in mollusks could act homogeneously across habitats and environmental conditions. In contrast, multiple factors could interact to determine the robustness of polychaetes to taxonomic aggregation. This study highlights the need to go beyond the current pragmatism in this field of work and focus on the reasons underlying TS effectiveness in order to provide a general framework on the application of taxonomic surrogates in marine systems.

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