Spatial prioritization for fucalean brown algae forests restoration in the Mediterranean Sea

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Erika Fabbrizzi, Francesco De Leo, Laura Tamburello, Antonia Chiarore, Alberto Colletti, Marianna Coppola, Marco Munari, Luigi Musco, Fabio Rindi, Lucia Rizzo, Beatrice Savinelli, Emma Cebrian, Jana Verdura, Silvia Bianchelli, Luisa Mangialajo, Ina Nasto, Sotiris Orfanidis, K. Nadia Papadopoulou, Hazel Thornton, Roberto Danovaro, Simonetta Fraschetti

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In the marine environment, the processes of site selection and spatial planning have received scarce attention. Yet, beyond applying the most effective restoration techniques, spatial prioritization is critical to guide marine restoration efforts at large scale. The loss of fucalean brown algae forests across the Mediterranean Sea is largely affecting the status of coastal ecosystems with severe effects on the associated ecosystem services. Introducing spatial prioritization to identify areas conducive to the forests recovery is strategic to support more effective restoration actions. We adopted a multi-criteria analysis, overlaying three levels of information relevant to select areas where fucalean seaweeds restoration is likely to be effective: 1) absence areas, areas where the algae were present in the past and regression areas, obtained by comparing the current and historical forests distribution; 2) suitable areas for hosting fucalean species, obtained by developing a Habitat Suitability Model; 3) biotic, abiotic and socio-economic variables to assess the feasibility of restoration activities. Our analysis allowed the prioritization of 242 sites spread across the Mediterranean basin and classified them into 5 priority classes: very low, low, moderate, high and very high priority. Within the highest priority class, only 10 sites were indicated as the best candidates for pilot restoration actions for these brown algae forests. Our results highlighted the large number of constraints in finding areas feasible for restoration and the high potential of introducing the spatial planning principles in marine restoration initiatives.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program