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    Terra Nova Bay: hot spot in marine and terrestrial biodiversity, knowledge and functioning of the ecosystem

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    Numéro du document:
    S. Torcini, M. Vacchi, S. Aliani, G. Bavestrello, A. Bergamasco, G. Budillon, B. Calcinai, G. Catalano, R. Cattaneo-Vietti, C. Cerrano, M. Chiantore, S. Corsolini, R. Bargagli, A. Dell’Anno, G. di Prisco, G. Fusco, S. Focardi, L. Gugliemo, G. Lauriano, P. Luporini, O. Mangoni, S. Olmastroni, F. Pezzo, E. Pisano, L. Ghigliotti, P. Povero, S. Puce, A. Pusceddu, E. Rusciano, M. Saggiomo, V. Saggiomo, M.C. Gambi, S. Schiaparelli, G. Spezie, C. Verde, P. Del Negro (Italy)

    The Terra Nova Bay area is particularly valuable for science due to the presence of unique marine and terrestrial flora and fauna and the high diversity at both species and community level.
    From an oceanographic perspective, the area is characterised by the occurrence of the Terra Nova Bay polynya, a crucial region for the formation of the High Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW), formed by the salination of the Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW), that penetrates onto the continental shelf of the Ross Sea.
    Herein, high primary production and strong benthic-pelagic coupling support species- and biomass-rich communities, either on the sea bottom (e.g. scallops and sponges) and in the water column. In fact, Terra Nova Bay represents a nursery area for the pelagic silverfish, a key species in the coastal food web, and hosts large assemblages of the crystal krill. All this supports several  colonies of top-predators, such as Adélie and emperor penguins, as well as flying sea-birds and marine mammals.
    The Terra Nova Bay area has been widely investigated in the last 25 years:  extensive geological, oceanographic, marine and terrestrial ecological and biological research has been carried out, contributing substantially to our understanding of  ecosystem functioning and community processes.
    The existence of several biodiversity databases (both terrestrial and marine) and of an ongoing marine long term research monitoring program make this area of high ecological and scientific value.
    All these peculiarities have been already acknowledged through the establishment of two ASPAs (N° 161 and 165) and the setting up of a marine LTER site.
    The awareness that the processes that make this area particularly valuable occur at a spatial scale which is larger than the presently protected areas suggests that management and conservation measures should be applied at a larger scale, by embracing more sites or enlarging the existing ones.