Mussel farming impacts on trophic status and benthic community structure in Maliakos Gulf (Eastern Mediterranean)
The impact of shellfish farming on the water column nutrient concentration and the benthic community structure was investigated seasonally at a mussel farm (Mytilus galloprovincialis L.) of Maliakos Gulf (Eastern Mediterranean). In most cases concentration of nutrients and chl a at the farm site was lower than those observed at the control sites. Statistical analysis in concentration of all nutrients and chl a indicated significant interactions between sites and seasons, which in all cases were temporal. Furthermore, no significant interactions were found between sites and seasons for all sediment and benthic community parameters, except for Shannon-Wiener diversity index and species richness. The significant interactions detected in the biotic data were temporal. Analysis of similarity and similarity percentages analysis revealed a certain fluctuation of benthic macrofaunal community during the overall sampling year mainly due to temporal rather than spatial effects. Cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling ordination plot indicated the clearly separation of the farm site and the control sites in most of the seasons. K-dominance curves showed small difference in elevation and overlap indicating minimal difference in biological stress between the farm site and the control sites. All the above indicates that probably the farming of mussels was beneficial for the trophic status of Maliakos Gulf and that there was a minimal environmental stress caused by the shellfish farming for the surrounding benthic environment.