Effects of restoration on ecosystem functioning: a case of a fucoid forest

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Galobart, C.; Ballesteros, E.; Golo, R.; Vergés, A.; Cebrian, E.

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Canopy-forming brown macroalgae, such as kelps and fucoids, are considered the “trees” of the oceans. They play a central role in primary production and provide habitat structure, food and shelter for many other species. However, they are in decline in many places around the globe and, in consequence, restoration initiatives are becoming a major focus of their conservation and management. Despite the efforts, marine restoration science is still facing several challenges: recovery outcome is usually assessed only considering the target species, most results are based on short-term periods (one year on average), and it is often assumed that once the main species are reintroduced, they will lead to the return of the ecosystem processes and functions. However, recent studies have stressed the need of including estimations of biodiversity and ecosystem functions to properly evaluate restoration success. In this sense, trait-based ecology facilitates the analysis of the relationship between community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Here, taking advantage of a midterm (10 years) restored population of the fucoid Gongolaria barbata, we studied the change in community functional components by comparing restored, non-restored and reference communities. A major finding is that the functional diversity recovers in restored sites, becoming equivalent to reference habitats. Restored and reference communities are characterized by harboring high variability of species functional traits whereas the non-restored area was more homogenous in terms of functional entities. These results suggest that the restoration of the canopy-forming macroalgae is the first step to achieve the recovery of the overall ecosystem functions.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program