LTER Marechiara - Italy
Parent Site Name
The Gulf of Naples has an extension of ca 870 kmq and an average depth of 170 m. The coastal area, which is inhabited since pre-Roman age, is densely populated and small factories are actively growing. In the Gulf, polluted areas (Sarno river mouth, harbours) coexist with pristine areas, including some Protected Marine Areas. Research on marine organisms has started before since the beginning of 1800, but first ecological studies date back to the 70ies of the last century. The long-term monitoring station (LTER-MC, 40°49’N, 14°15’E) is located 2 nm off Naples city (depth ca 80 m) at the boundary between eutrophied coastal waters and oligotrophic Tyrrhenian waters. Larger areas of the Gulf have been sampled occasionally in several cruises. The MC data set represents one of the few plankton time series available in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is certainly one of the longest.
General Characteristics, Purpose, History
The site has so far been a research site aiming at the study of plankton variability in response to environmental forcing. Plankton samples are collected along with environmental data at a weekly scale, and species identification is performed with traditional methods coupled with Electron microscopy and molecular tools. Phytoplankton species are often grown in the lab for experimental work or taxonomic analyses, which have led to the discovery of about 15 new microalgal species. Special investigations have addressed, among other topics, the role of viruses in the demise of algal blooms, the rate of dinoflagellate cyst production over the seasons, the rhythm of sexual reproduction in diatoms and grazing of meso- and microzooplankton.
Affiliation and Network Specific Information