Objective 1

Acquisition and analysis of long-term series of environmental and biological parameters

To evaluate the effects of perturbations, baseline data must be gathered so that we can distinguish between natural variability and the impact of disturbances. Therefore, one of MedRecover’s main activities is to continue the large-scale time series that were started in the early 1990s. This is achieved by annual surveys of different key species’ populations (fish, gorgonian, algae, urchins and lobsters) in several marine reserves and in nearby areas that have no protection, mainly on the Catalan Costa Brava, the Balearic Islands, the French coastline and the Island of Corsica. The arrival of invasive species have been also taken into account since the beginning of 2003.

Besides biological surveys, MedRecover has actively participated in the acquisition of high resolution temperature series in the NW Mediterranean (www.t-mednet.org). At present, there are 12 stations, distributed in the Balearic Islands and the NE Spanish and French coast. Each station is equipped with automatic temperature sensors that obtain hourly measurements within a range of 5 to 40 metres of depth. In the context of studying the effects of climate change, the acquisition of these series is a key factor for in-depth analyses of the relation between thermal conditions and biological response.

Research into guidelines and the definition of conservation objectives

The comparison between areas that are subjected to different levels of anthropogenic pressure enables us to determine the level of degradation of ecosystems with regard to pristine baselines. The determination of these baselines is required to define the conservation objectives that should guide management initiatives. At present, MedRecover is evaluating the state of conservation of algae communities in the Mediterranean through a comparative study on the abundance of groups of key organisms in these communities (fish, algae and urchins) in areas of the NW Mediterranean, the Adriatic and the NE Mediterranean (Greece and Turkey) that are subjected to different degrees of anthropogenic pressure. In the next years, we extend this type of large-scale comparative study to coralligenous communities in the Mediterranean within the project medDiversa.

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