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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 Mar 15;68(1-2):46-54. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.12.025. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Multi-metric index based on the seagrass Zostera noltii (ZoNI) for ecological quality assessment of coastal and estuarine systems in SW Iberian Peninsula.

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Department of Biology, Division of Ecology, Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of Cadiz, 11510 Puerto Real (Cadiz), Spain.


The aim of this study was to develop an ecological quality index based on the seagrass Zostera noltii (ZoNI) according to the WFD requirements. Eleven Z. noltii meadows of SW Iberian Peninsula under contrasting levels of anthropogenic disturbance were considered: 5 sites in Ria Formosa (Portugal), and 6 sites in Spain (Huelva and Cadiz). Environmental quality was assessed through nutrients of the water column and seagrass variables from different organization levels; those variables were analyzed using PCA (47% of explained variance on the first component) to calculate the ecological quality ratio (that was significantly correlated to the environmental variables, R(2)=0.51, p<0.01) and the ecological quality status of the sites. As a result, 4 sites were classified as good, 6 sites as moderate and 3 sites as poor ecological status. The developed index ZoNI showed to be suitable to assess the ecological status of estuarine and coastal systems in SW Iberian Peninsula reflecting their water quality.

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