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Published on 18-06-2021

Biology, biodiversity and ecosystem services offered by the Lagoon

The lagoon environment, with its numerous ecological niches, allows the coexistence of a large number of different species of microorganisms, plants and animals, creating a fundamental balance for life. It is biodiversity and balance with the environment, in fact, that guarantee a whole series of services, including for humans, called “ecosystem services”, that is the contribution of the structure and functioning of ecosystems to human well-being. fundamental for the survival of all species, including ours.

The Venetian lagoon, despite its resilience capacity (understood as the system’s ability to return to its original state after a disturbance), due to the multiple anthropogenic pressures and climate changes, is at risk of substantial loss of characteristic habitats, which necessarily follows the loss of biodiversity and the loss of associated ecosystem services.

The natural and urban environment, on the other hand, constitute a heritage to be managed wisely, whose resources should not be wasted but used and reused effectively. The concept of sustainability is becoming increasingly important as a guide to territorial, urban, industrial developments that are compatible with minimizing the cost-benefit ratio for the environment and the reuse of existing resources.

It therefore appears more necessary than ever to evaluate the changes taking place in terms of habitats and biotic communities, paying particular attention to the detection of new alien species that could strongly influence the lagoon ecosystem services.

Since the 1st and 2nd CORILA Research Programs, CORILA’s research has been focused on multiple themes: studies on the efficiency of lagoon metabolism; point of the situation on the biodiversity of the Venice lagoon; action of the trophic chain on metabolism; conservation and evolution of lagoon habitats; climatic effects on fish productivity, etc.

The operation of the MOSE system implies numerous potential impacts on the lagoon hydrodynamic circulation, on the physico-chemical characteristics of the water inside the lagoon, on the tidal regimes, on the exchange of sea-lagoon sediments, on the ecological and morphological processes of the lagoon, on the cycles vitality of lagoon organisms and, as a whole, on lagoon communities and ecosystems. In particular, the variations in the biodiversity that characterizes the lagoon and supports fishing and aquaculture activities that are important for the entire upper Adriatic are intimately connected with the morphological changes of the system. It is therefore central to the Venezia2021 research program to develop methods and applications for monitoring that can evaluate the changes taking place simultaneously in terms of morphology, habitat and biotic communities resulting from the exercise of the MOSE system.

The Interreg Italy-Slovenia GreenHull project, in which CORILA is a partner, aims to experiment with innovative solutions for cleaning the hull of ships, important not only for the prevention of chemical pollution but also for preventing the introduction of alien exotic species, the so-called bioinvasion . A prototype for cleaning the incrustations of the hulls of ships will be created, consisting of an underwater multisensory platform, with the cleaning unit integrated with a modular purification plant that will filter the polluting compounds and organisms of the cleaning waste water, before of their re-entry into the sea.

Within the Interreg Italy-Croatia CASCADE project, CORILA will support IUAV in the development and conduct of in situ observation campaigns in the “Tegnùe di Chioggia” area to define the state of the ecosystem and its vulnerability, with the aim final to restore endangered species and to support the integrated management of internal, coastal and marine ecosystems in Italy and Croatia.

CORILA is partner of MEDREGION (DG environment), which aims to provide support to member states of Mediterranean regions / sub-regions for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive-MSFD- 2008/56 / EC) which sets the objective of Member States to achieve good environmental status for their marine waters, ie the ability to preserve biodiversity and the “vitality of the seas”. For this purpose, 11 descriptors have been defined that describe the quality of the habitat ecosystem once the good environmental status has been achieved. As regards Descriptor 1, “biodiversity” is maintained: the quality and presence of habitats as well as the distribution and abundance of species are in line with the prevailing physiographic, geographical and climatic conditions.

The LIFE FORESTALL project, of which CORILA is Lead Partner, fights the loss of biodiversity by recovering and conserving priority habitats in the WWF Oasis of Valle Averto, a wetland of international importance according to the Ramsar Convention and within two Natura 2000 sites. Anthropogenic pressures and climate changes put the specific biodiversity of this environment at risk and active protection actions are necessary to preserve it. In fact, the project envisages, as its main objective, the recovery and conservation of the habitats “7210 * Calcareous swamps with Cladium mariscus and species of the Caricion davallianae“, which will be extended from 0.03 to 6.19 hectares, and “91E0 * Alluvial forests of Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior ”, which will be extended from 1.25 to 11.60 hectares, both priorities according to the“ Habitat ”Directive (1992/43 / EEC). Actions are also planned to increase native birdlife with the installation of artificial rafts to encourage reproduction. Finally, the containment of some exotic species such as the “catfish”, which threatens local biodiversity, is planned.

DANUBIUS-RI, the International Center for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems, of which CORILA is a part, is an environmental research infrastructure distributed on the roadmap of the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). DANUBIUS-RI’s vision is to create healthy river-sea systems and promote their sustainable use by offering a cutting-edge integrated research infrastructure from the source of the river to the sea; facilitating excellent interdisciplinary science and providing the integrated knowledge necessary to manage and protect river-sea systems. Among the research priorities for the first five years of DANUBIUS-RI’s activity are “Biodiversity: understanding the relationship between biodiversity and connectivity in river-sea systems and its response to multiple stress factors” and “Ecosystem services: understanding and quantify how the change in river-sea systems will affect the future provision of ecosystem services and how these can be sustained ”.


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