Mediterranean rocky benthic communities face to global change


Model species and study sites

Biorock project is studying three benthic communities dominated by long-lived species: Cladocora caespitosa, Cystoseira zosteroides and Corallium rubrum. These species can be considered engineering species since they provide biogenic structure, favouring the development of other species. Due to their life-history traits, long-lived organisms are among the most vulnerable against the strong disturbances. Changes in their abundance can have dramatic effects at community level. The three species have suffered severe impacts of disturbance by temperature anomalies, fishing, and invasive species. Therefore, these species are excellent models for the study of global change effects on the Mediterranean benthic communities.

Learn more about Biorock model species.

Biorock activies are being carried out at three Spanish Mediterranean marine protected areas: Parc Natural de Cap de Creus; Parc Natural Montgri, les illes Medes i Baix Ter and Reserva Marina de las Islas Columbretes. These areas offer different natural “experimental” conditions to analyze the effects of climate change and invasive species on the model species. In fact these three areas are located along a clear climatic gradient (the northern the colder) from Cap de Creus to Medes and Columbretes. This gradient probably explains the fact that Cap de Creus has never suffered massive mortalities, Medes has shown some subtle evidences of these impacts, whereas Columbretes is being affected by chronic mortality events. On the other hand during last years Columbretes has been invaded (at least) by two invasive algae (Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea and Lophocladia lallemandii), while the presence of these two invasive algae have not been documented in the two other sites until now.