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    STUDIA BIOLOGIA - Issue no. 1 / 2019  
         
  Article:   THE ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF SOLAR SALTWORKS.

Authors:  NIKOLAOS A. KOROVESSIS.
 
       
         
  Abstract:  Solar saltworks have produced salt by solar evaporation of seawater since the dawn of human civilization. However, recognition of the unique coastal ecosystem that has progressively developed, in parallel with the sea salt production process evolution is often lacking. Current, industrial solar saltworks consist of a series of successive, interconnecting lakes where the seawater enters and its density gradually increases by solar evaporation, as it flows under controlled conditions into the lake system. Finally, a salinity vector develops throughout the lakes system, which results in salt crystallization in the later lake in the raw. Along with the salinity vector, an extremely important biological process also develops in every lake, consisting of planktonic and benthic communities of microorganisms that cover all existing domains of life, Eukaryota, Bacteria and Archaea. As each lake functions at steady state, a unique ecosystem is created where regular and hypersaline environments coexist. The physical and the biological process of solar saltworks interact strongly and affect both the quantity and quality of their final product. In this paper, we examine the key role of the crustacean Artemia salina compared to that of the protozoan Fabrea salina. The presence of these microorganisms decisively affects the microbial synthesis in crystallizers, which in turn determines the salt crystallization process. Current solar saltworks, apart for being profitable industries, establish high significant saline wetlands, offering their contribution in safeguarding wetland areas globally. They simply prove that development and environmental protection can indeed go hand in hand.

Keywords: Fabrea salina, sea salt, solar salt, solar saltworks, wetlands.
 
         
     
         
         
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