Phytoplankton diversity in Adriatic ports: lessons from the port baseline survey for the management of harmful algal species.
An inventory of phytoplankton diversity in 12 Adriatic ports was performed with the port baseline survey. Particular emphasis was put on the detection of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens (HAOP) because of their negative impact on ecosystem, human health, and the economy. Phytoplanktonic HAOP are identified as species, either native or non-indigenous (NIS), which can trigger harmful algal blooms (HAB). A list of 691 taxa was prepared, and among them 52 were classified as HAB and five as NIS. Records of toxigenic NIS (Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata, Ostreopsis species including O. cf. ovata) indicate that the intrusion of non-native invasive phytoplankton species has already occurred in some Adriatic ports. The seasonal occurrence and abundance of HAOP offers a solid baseline for a monitoring design in ports in order to prevent ballast water uptake and possible expansion of HAOP outside their native region.