Forging sustainability

RIA DE AVEIRO AS A NATURAL LABORATORY

Ria de Aveiro is a shallow coastal lagoon located on the NW coast of Portugal (40?38’N, 08?45’W) including the Vouga River estuary and connecting the Vouga River catchment area to the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of a complex network of tidal channels, tidal flats (mud and sand flats), seagrasses, salt marshes, and supra-tidal sand isles. Ria de Aveiro has c. 45 km in length and is 10 km wide, covering an area up to 83 km2 of wetlands (during high tide), and it exhibits a longitudinal salinity gradient range from c. 0 to about 36. Ria is classified under the Natura 2000 network, entailing a Special Protection Area (SPA) that includes extensive salt marsh habitats, the largest area of contiguous salt marsh in Portugal and one of the largest in Europe, and the adjacent marine area. The lagoon has a unique geomorphology and a relevant record of historical contamination in an inner basin of 2 km2 (Largo do Laranjo) due to industrial activity. This way, Ria de Aveiro is a valuable natural laboratory where a wide range of research areas can be developed, including ecology, biodiversity, ecosystem services, ecotoxicology, etc.

Ria de Aveiro is part of LTER network, a Long-Term Ecological Research network of sites, being an International network (ILTER) which is grouped at a regional scale, in turn including the European network (LTER-Europe). As a LTER site, part of the LTER Portugal network, Ria de Aveiro long-term ecological research aims at monitor and create relevant data bases on natural sciences (from organisms to ecosystems) and on social sciences (from citizens to institutions) trough transdisciplinary approaches. LTER is currently part of the e-infrastructures PORBIOTA and LifeWatch ERIC. Environmental data collected under the scope of LTER Ria Aveiro site is stored in DEIMS-SDR database, an information management system that compiles/stores long-term data from ecosystem research sites around the globe. CESAM is also a data provider in GBIF, namely on Zostera noltei seagrass meadows spatial distribution.

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