Original paper

Benthic foraminiferal assemblages as tools for environmental characterization: an example from the Gulf of Gaeta, Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy)

Faugno, Antonio; Alivernini, Mauro; Di Bella, Letizia


The present study is aimed at evaluating the environmental setting of the Gulf of Gaeta (Tyrrhenian Sea, Western Mediterannean Basin), with respect to antrophogenic and natural impacts, by means of benthic foraminiferal assemblages. In this area, fish and mollusc farming as well as riverine run-off contribute to the characterization of the marine benthic ecosystem resulting in an enrichment of organic matter. The qualitative and quantitative foraminiferal analyses on the surface samples revealed different degrees of eutrophication. Five foraminiferal assemblages were recognized with a bathymetric distribution parallel to the coast. The presence of eutrophic foraminiferal assemblages at about 20 m water depth in the restored area, between Punta dello Stendardo and Torre del Fico, showed, that anthropogenic activities within the semi-enclosed geomorphological setting caused the increase of bottom stress conditions. Here, the Garigliano river influence is weaker than in the rest of the studied section of the Gulf. In close proximity to the river mouth, the foraminiferal distribution appears to be controlled mainly by salinity but at greater depth (20-50 m) organic matter accumulation and low oxygen conditions contribute to the dominance of infaunal species.


gulf of gaeta (tyrrhenian sea, central italy)benthic foraminiferal assemblagesriver influencefish farming