CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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The MICARI project ‘strumenti e procedure per il MIglioramento della CApacità RIcettiva si corpi idrici superficiali e Proposta di stream standard specifici per corsi d’acqua a regime torrentizio’ (MIUR, 2002. D.M. 408 Ric. 20/03/2002) is a project co-funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research (MURST) in collaboration with a consortium of research institutes and stakeholders (ENEA, ENEL.Hydro, Politecnico di Milano, University of Bologna, CNR and Hydrocontrol). The Project, active in the period 2002-2004, aimed to develop tools and procedures to improve the carrying capacity of surface water bodies through the application of ecological techniques in natural and artificial aquatic environments.
The activity carried out within the MICARI project on Sardinian water bodies has allowed us to highlight some peculiarities of river environments in the Mediterranean area and to make important considerations about their peculiarities. The highly dynamic character and large variations in the hydrological regime that characterize the Mediterranean rivers exert a decisive influence on both physico-chemical and biological processes. These findings indicate the need to specifically adapt existing assessment systems for the  evaluation of these environments.
In MICARI Project, particular attention has been paid to the definition of the factors of variability that, in temporary watercourses in particular, may influence the structure of biocoenoses. In this context, it became apparent how in sites characterized by high-good ecological integrity , the most important factor in determining differences in macrobenthic communities is the lentic - lotic character of the sites. This research has shown, in line with other studies, as the environmental variables related to habitat availability – in this case mainly hydraulic habitats – significantly affect the taxonomic composition of the community and, consequently, derived biotic indices. Therefore, for the correct interpretation of biological data, it is fundamental to define and measure those natural variables - such as hydrological variability - that more effectively can induce changes in biological communities.
The Quaderno CNR-IRSA 122 and publications Buffagni et al., 2009. Does the lentic-lotic character of rivers affect invertebrate metrics used in the assessment of ecological quality? J. Limnol., 68(1): 92-105 and Buffagni et al., 2010. The lentic–lotic character of Mediterranean rivers and its importance to aquatic invertebrate communities. Aquat. Sci. 72: 45-60 include information and results obtained during MICARI project on these topics.

Another research activity carried out during MICARI Project was focused on the control of the eutrophication  by the integrated management of the catchment and biocoenosis. In this context CNR-IRSA investigated the role of the lacustrine wetland in the removal of N from diffuse sources on Candia Lake (Piedmont region).  A transect of 18 piezometers was installed perpendicular to the shoreline, in a sub-unit formed by 80m of poplar plantation, close to a crop field and 30m of reed swamp. The chemical analysis revealed a drastic NO3− -N ground water depletion from the crop field to the lake, with concentrations decreasing from 15–18 mg N/l to the detection limit within the reeds. Patterns of Cl−, SO42− , O2, NO−2 -N, HCO3− and DOC suggest that the metabolic activity of bacterial communities, based on the differential use of electron donors and acceptors in redox reactions is the key function of this system. The significant inverse relationship found between NO3− –N and HCO3− is a valuable indicator of the denitrification activity. The pluviometric regime, the temperature, the organic carbon availability and the hydrogeomorphic properties are the main environmental factors affecting the N transformations in the studied lacustrine ecosystem.
Results of this activity are included in the Quaderno CNR-IRSA 121 and in the paper Balestrini et al., 2008. Lacustrine Wetland in an Agricultural Catchment: Nitrogen Removal and Related Biogeochemical Processes. Hydrology and Earth Sciences 12: 539‐550.

View of one of the investigated water body