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Benthic foraminiferal biomonitoring: a low cost tool to evaluate anthropogenic impact: a case study in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia).

English title Benthic foraminiferal biomonitoring: a low cost tool to evaluate anthropogenic impact: a case study in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia).
Applicant Spezzaferri Silvia
Number 149589
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département des Géosciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Palaeontology
Start/End 01.02.2014 - 30.09.2018
Approved amount 269'948.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Palaeontology
Oceanography

Keywords (5)

Benthic foramininifera; Biomonitoring; Biotic Index; Phosphogypsum; Pollution

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
Uno dei tipi piu’ pericolosi di inquinamento nel Mediterraneo orientale é dovuto al fosfogesso (PG), prodotto residuale che deriva dal trattamento delle rocce fosfatiche per la produzione di fertilizzanti fosfatici. In Tunisia le zone che presentano un piu’ elevato tenore di inquinamento sono situate nel Golfo di Gabes, dove molte industrie scaricano grandi quantità di PG producendo gravi danni ambientali e conseguente eutroficazione.
Lay summary

I foraminiferi bentonici sono micro-organismi unicellulari. Il loro corto ciclo vitale, la loro sensibilità allo stress ambientale e all’eutroficazione ed il loro potenziale di fossilizzazione li rende eccellenti strumenti per il biomonitoraggio.

Un protocollo standard per il monitoraggio dell’inquinamento, basato su questi organismi, é appena stato sviluppato durante due “Swiss SNF International Exploratory Workshops -FOBIMO I and II.”

Scopo di questo progetto é di identificare le condizioni ambientali prima e dopo e l’inizio dell’ impatto umano nel Golfo di Gabes e di identificare il responso dei foraminiferi bentonici all’inquinamento a PG nella regione.

I foraminiferi bentonici verranno studiati quantitativamente secondo il Protocollo FOBIMO e paragonati con le caratteristiche geochimiche dei sedimenti e dell’acqua marina. I profili del cesio-137 e del Pb-210 nei sediment forniranno dati sui cambiamenti delle associazioni faunistiche in tempi storici.

Gli obiettivi specifici del progetto sono: a) valutare il grado di eutrofizzazione nel Golfo di Gabes usando la geochimica e le associazioni a foraminiferi bentonici; b) di tracciare le variazioni spaziali e temporali delle associazioni a foraminiferi bentonici; c) di valutare l’impatto dell’inquinamento a fosfogesso su queste associazioni lungo le coste della Tunisia; d) di valutare l’eventuale effetto di misure di decontaminazione e il tempo di recupero delle associazioni stesse; e) di fornire al gruppo FOBIMO dei dati per individuare gli “Indici Biotici”; f) di aumentare la consapevolezza pubblica circa lo stato di salute delle coste Tunisine.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.04.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Living (stained) foraminifera in the Lesser Syrtis (Tunisia): influence of pollution and substratum
El Kateb Akram, Beccari Valentina, Stainbank Stephanie, Spezzaferri Silvia, Coletti Giovanni (2020), Living (stained) foraminifera in the Lesser Syrtis (Tunisia): influence of pollution and substratum, in PeerJ, 8, e8839-e8839.
Foraminiferal-based biotic indices to assess the ecological quality status of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Present limitations and future perspectives
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Martínez-Colón Michael, Mateu-Vicens Guillem, Francescangeli Fabio, Coletti Giovanni, Stainbank Stephanie, Spezzaferri Silvia (2020), Foraminiferal-based biotic indices to assess the ecological quality status of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Present limitations and future perspectives, in Ecological Indicators, 111, 105962-105962.
Foraminiferal-based biotic indices to assess the ecological quality status of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Present limitations and future perspectives
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Martínez-Colón Michael, Mateu-Vicens Guillem, Francescangeli Fabio, Coletti Giovanni, Stainbank Stephanie, Spezzaferri Silvia (2020), Foraminiferal-based biotic indices to assess the ecological quality status of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Present limitations and future perspectives, in Ecological Indicators, 111, 105962-105962.
High-resolution monitoring of water temperature and oxygen concentration in Lake Murten (Switzerland)
El Kateb Akram, Rüggeberg Andres, Stalder Claudio, Neururer Christoph, Spezzaferri Silvia (2018), High-resolution monitoring of water temperature and oxygen concentration in Lake Murten (Switzerland), in Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 111(3), 473-482.
Impact of industrial phosphate waste discharge on the marine environment in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia)
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Rüggeberg Andres, Neururer Christoph, Spangenberg Jorge, Spezzaferri Silvia (2018), Impact of industrial phosphate waste discharge on the marine environment in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia), in PLoS ONE, 13(5), 1-30.
Developing Foram-AMBI for biomonitoring in the Mediterranean: Species assignments to ecological categories
Jorissen Frans, Nardelli Maria Pia, Almogi-Labin Ahuva, Barras Christine, Bergamin Luisa, Bicchi Erica, El Kateb Akram, Ferraro Luciana, Morigi Caterina, Romano Elena, Sabbatini Anna, Schweizer Magali, Spezzaferri Silvia (2018), Developing Foram-AMBI for biomonitoring in the Mediterranean: Species assignments to ecological categories, in Marine Micropaleontology, 140, 33-45.
Distribution of benthic foraminiferal assemblages in the transitional environment of the Djerba lagoon (Tunisia)
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Neururer Christoph, Fentimen Robin, Spangenberg Jorge, Spezzaferri Silvia (2018), Distribution of benthic foraminiferal assemblages in the transitional environment of the Djerba lagoon (Tunisia), in Bridging gap and genetation in Swiss Sedimentology, SwitzerlandSpringer, Switzerland.
IN SITU OBSERVATIONS OF FORAMINIFERAL BLEACHING IN THE MALDIVES, INDIAN OCEAN
Spezzaferri Silvia, El Kateb Akram, Pisapia Chiara, Pamela Hallock (2018), IN SITU OBSERVATIONS OF FORAMINIFERAL BLEACHING IN THE MALDIVES, INDIAN OCEAN, in Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 48(1), 75-84.
Assessing coral reef health in the North Ari Atoll (Maldives) using the FoRAM Index
Pisapia Chiara, El Kateb Akram, Hallock Pamela, Spezzaferri Silvia (2017), Assessing coral reef health in the North Ari Atoll (Maldives) using the FoRAM Index, in Marine Micropaleontology, 50-57.
Baseline assessment of coral reefs of North Ari Atoll, Maldives
Pisapia Chiara, El Kateb Akram, Spezzaferri Silvia (2017), Baseline assessment of coral reefs of North Ari Atoll, Maldives, IUCN - Government of Maldives, Gland, Switzerland.
Nutrient on fossil carbonate factories: Evidence from SEDEX extractions on Burdigalian limestones (Miocene, NW Italy and S France).
Coletti Giovanni, El Kateb Akram, Basso Daniela, Cavallo A., Spezzaferri Silvia (2017), Nutrient on fossil carbonate factories: Evidence from SEDEX extractions on Burdigalian limestones (Miocene, NW Italy and S France)., in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeocology, 475, 80-92.
Correlation between pollution and decline of Scleractinian Cladocora caespitosa (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Gulf of Gabes
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Neururer Christoph, Pisapia Chiara, Spezzaferri Silvia (2016), Correlation between pollution and decline of Scleractinian Cladocora caespitosa (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Gulf of Gabes, in Helyon, (11), e00195.
A brief overview on cold-water coral ecosystems and facies
Vertino Agostina, Spezzaferri Silvia, Rüggeberg Andres, Wheeler Andy, and the Eurofleets Moira Cruise Scientific Party (2015), A brief overview on cold-water coral ecosystems and facies, in Cushman Foundation Special Publication, 41, 12-19.
Schackoinella spina, a new benthic foraminiferal species from cold-water coral ecosystems of the Alboran Sea and the Gulf of Cadiz
Stalder Claudio, Székely-Szabolcs Flavius, El Kateb Akram, Van Rooji David, Spezzaferri Silvia (2015), Schackoinella spina, a new benthic foraminiferal species from cold-water coral ecosystems of the Alboran Sea and the Gulf of Cadiz, in Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 45, 344-353.
The genus Amphistegina (benthic foraminifera): distribution along the southern Tunisian coast
El Kateb Akram, Stalder Claudio, Stainbank Stephanie, Fentimen Robin, Spezzaferri Silvia, The genus Amphistegina (benthic foraminifera): distribution along the southern Tunisian coast, in Bioinvasion Record, 7.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. E. Alve - University of Oslo, Norway Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. S. Korsun and his research group, University of Petersburg, Russia Russia (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Michael Martinez Colon United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Profs. F. Jorissen and E. Geslin - University of Angers, France France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. F. Tamburini - ETH-Zurich, Switzerland Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Pamela Hallock, University of South Florid United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. J. Schönfeld Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Foraminiferal Biomonitoring School (FaB) Talk given at a conference Marginal foraminifera more than a sea level gauge: how can we use foraminifera to scale man-made environmental detorioration? 22.06.2018 St Andrews, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;
Forams2018 Talk given at a conference Lesser Syrtis (South of Tunisia): Phosphate industry contamination assessment using a multidisciplinary approach 17.06.2018 Edimburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Spezzaferri Silvia;
Forams 2018 Talk given at a conference Exposure and toxicity of Potentially Toxic Elements in a tropical estuary: Is there a benthic foraminiferal response to bioavailability? 17.06.2018 Edimburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland El Kateb Akram;
Forams 2018 Poster Amphistegina spp. in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia, Mediterranean Sea): Distribution of an alien species in response to marine pollution 17.06.2018 Edimburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2018 Poster Distribution of benthic foraminifera in the transitional environment of the Djerba lagoon (Tunisia): An ecological overview 24.03.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;
SwissSed 2017 Talk given at a conference Industrial phosphate treatment waste discharge into the Gulf of Gabes: impact on carbon and phosphorus cycling, sedimentary facies and eutrophication 25.02.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;
SwissSed 2017 Poster High resolution monitoring of water parameter using a Lander System: a case study from Lake Murten 25.02.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2017 Talk given at a conference Benthic foraminiferal assemblages from small-scaled cold-water coral habitats: the Moira Mounds 25.02.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster Benthic foraminiferal assemblages from small scaled Cold-water coral habitats: the Moira Mounds 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
Swiss geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Lake Murten: Implication of high-resolution water parameter survey on lake functioning 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
International Coral Reefs Symposium Talk given at a conference Assessing coral reef health in the North Ari Atol (Maldives) using the Foram Index. 19.07.2016 Honolulu, United States of America El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
TMS Meeting Talk given at a conference In-Situ bleaching of Amphistegina in the Maldives 19.07.2016 Angers, France El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
1st International Carbonate Mound Conference Talk given at a conference Faunal assemblages from active, declining and buried cold-water coral ecosytems 01.11.2015 Ascona, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
IUCN Workshop in Male Talk given at a conference Tiny creatures tell big secrets 07.05.2015 Male, Maledives El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
Training Workshop on Ecological Survey Technique Individual talk Importance of foraminifera in coral reef studies. Sampling methodologies for foraminifera and water quality 19.04.2015 Male, Maledives Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2015 Talk given at a conference Benthic foraminiferal assemblages as pollution proxies in the Gulf of Gabes: preliminary result 28.02.2015 Fribourg, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2015 Poster Reading the (paleo-)environmental message from living (stained) and dead benthic foraminifera assemblages from cold-water coral ecosystems of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Eastern Alboran Sea 28.02.2015 Fribourg, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2015 Poster Dead coral in the Gulf of Gabes: First observations and relation with phosphorus pollution 28.02.2015 Fribourg, Switzerland Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;
SGM 2014 (Swiss Geoscience Meeting) Poster Pollution by phosphogypsum discharge into the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Preliminary results 21.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;
International Sedimentology Conference 2014: Sedimentology at the crossroad of new frontiers Poster Phosphate pollution in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): the problem of the phosphogypsum discharge 18.08.2014 Geneva, Switzerland El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
FOBIMO (FOraminiferal BIoMonitoring) workshop Poster Benthic Foraminiferal Biomonitoring: pollution by heavy industries in the Golf of Gabes (Tunisia), 26.06.2014 Texel, Netherlands El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
TMS joint Foraminifera and Nannofossil Spring Meeting 2014 Poster Preliminary evaluation of pollutant distribution in the Gulf of Gabes and anthropogenica impact on living (stained) foraminifera 23.06.2014 Texel, Netherlands El Kateb Akram; Spezzaferri Silvia;
European Geosciences Union General Assembly Poster First Archeomagnetic directions from Korsimoro, Burkina Faso 27.04.2014 Vienna, Austria Spezzaferri Silvia; El Kateb Akram;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Akram El Kateb et la pollution dans le golfe de Gabès RTS1 Western Switzerland 2017
Media relations: radio, television Ma thèse en 180 seconds RTF Western Switzerland 2017
Video/Film - Mission scientifique fribourgeoise aux Maldives Western Switzerland 2016
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Foraminifera: in IUCN Maldives Newsletter. Issue N° 4 International 2015
Media relations: print media, online media Fribourgeois au chevet du golfe de Gabès La Liberté Western Switzerland 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Le monde invisible des Océans, cultural exhibition of foraminifera SEM pictures at café culturel de Western Switzerland 2014

Awards

Title Year
Grants from by the European Science Foundation (ESF) COCARDE session, Carbonate mounds in shallow and deep time, during the ISC Geneva, 2014. 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
135895 FOraminiferal BIo-Monitoring (FOBIMO) 01.06.2011 International Exploratory Workshops
169892 Swiss participation in the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) through membership in the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) 01.01.2017 Research Infrastructure

Abstract

In many coastal marine areas, human activities introduce distinctive pollutant, which can produce severe environmental alterations at different trophic levels of ecosystems. One of the most dangerous pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is due to phosphogypsum (PG), the major waste products deriving from the processing of phosphate rocks to produce phosphate fertilizers. Tunisia has been a leading country for more than a century for phosphate treatment. The more polluted regions are located along the coasts of the Gulf of Gabes (Sfax, Skhira and Gabes), where several industries have discharged large amounts of PG for the last fifty years with negative impact on the environment and biodiversity. Remediation measures were adopted from 2006 to 2008 in the Sfax area.Benthic foraminifera are unicellular micro-organisms presenting high density in the marine environment. Their short life cycle and their potential to fossilize, thus, providing information on the pre- industrial environmental status, make them excellent biomonitoring tools. A standard protocol, proposing common strategies of sample acquisition and treatment for benthic foraminiferal pollution monitoring based has only recently started to be developed in the Framework of the two Swiss SNF International Exploratory Workshops FOBIMO I and II.Aim of this project is to identify changes in living benthic foraminiferal assemblages in pre- and post- anthropogenic impact in the Gulf of Gabes, and to investigate the response of these organisms to PS pollution in the region. Box-core sampling is planned twice for the duration of the project strictly following the FOBIMO protocol. Living benthic foraminiferal assemblages will be quantitatively characterized. The concentration of phosphorus in sea water and sediments, organic matter, carbonate, and heavy metal content in sediments will be compared with the mineralogical composition of phosphate rocks, PG components dissolved in the sea-water and with benthic assemblage patterns. Based on the correlation between benthic fauna and geochemical proxies, benthic foraminifera ecological groups will be identified and use to assess environmental status. Short cores (60-70 cm) dated by 137Cs and 210Pb will provide essential information about changes in benthic foraminiferal assemblages and in the environment through historical time. The specific objectives of this project are:a) to assess euthrophication in the Gulf of Gabes using geochemical proxies and benthic foraminifera; b) to trace variation in space (Sfax, Skhira and Gabes) and time (pre- and post- human impact) of benthic foraminiferal assemblages; c) to investigate the effects of uncontrolled PG pollution on benthic foraminiferal assemblages along Tunisian coasts; d) to evaluate the effects of existing remediation measures on benthic foraminiferal fauna, and to evaluate the timing of assemblage recovery; e) to help the FOBIMO members to develop “Biotic Indices” based on benthic foraminifera, as a case study within the Initiative; f) to increase public awareness about the health of Tunisian coasts and on the steps undertaken to protect them.
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