Monitoring of Mediterranean marine benthic biodiversity through novel, standardized, and integrated approaches

Mugnai, Francesco (2023) Monitoring of Mediterranean marine benthic biodiversity through novel, standardized, and integrated approaches, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra, della vita e dell'ambiente, 35 Ciclo.
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Marine healthy ecosystems support life on Earth and human well-being thanks to their biodiversity, which is proven to decline mainly due to anthropogenic stressors. Monitoring how marine biodiversity changes trough space and time is needed to properly define and enroll effective actions towards habitat conservation and preservation. This is particularly needed in those areas that are very rich in species compared to their low surface extension and are characterized by strong anthropic pressures, such as the Mediterranean Sea. Subtidal rocky benthic Mediterranean habitats have a complex structural architecture, hosting a panoply of tiny organisms (cryptofauna) that inhabit crevices and caves, but that are still unknown. Different artificial standardized sampling structures (SSS) and methods have been developed and employed to characterize the cryptofauna, allowing for data replicability and comparability across regions. Organisms growing on these artificial structures can be identified coupling morphological taxonomy and DNA barcoding and metabarcoding. The metabarcoding allows for the identification of organisms in a bulk sample without morphological analysis, and it is based on comparing the genetic similarities of the assessed organisms with barcoding sequences present in online barcoding repositories. Nevertheless, barcoded species nowadays represent only a small portion of known species, and barcoding reference databases are not always curated and updated on a regular basis. In this Thesis I used an integrative approach to characterize benthic marine biodiversity, specifically coupling morphological and molecular techniques with the employment of SSS. Moreover, I upgraded the actual status of COI (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) barcoding of marine metazoans, and I built a customized COI barcoding reference database for metabarcoding studies on temperate biogenic reefs. This work implemented the knowledge about diversity of Mediterranean marine communities, laying the groundworks for monitoring marine and environmental changes that will occur in the next future as consequences of anthropic and climate threats.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Mugnai, Francesco
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
integrative taxonomy, standardized sampling, metabarcoding, biogenic reefs, habitat conservation, benthic community ecology
Data di discussione
3 Aprile 2023

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