WP. 1. Overview and Objectives of the Work Package

Many Cystoseira species have specific ecological requirements, and as such restoration actions have the highest probability of success if they are undertaken in areas where Cystoseira is/was recorded. The MERCES project made an initial start at identifying, for some Cystoseira species, key features (dynamics, connectivity, spatial distribution, diversity and vulnerability) which impact restoration success and thereby recovery potential. As part of WP1 these will be revised and built upon. Furthermore, despite recent progress made in the MERCES project, the geographical distribution and key drivers and abiotic variables that influence the distribution of Cystoseira species are still unknown. This knowledge is crucial to understand ecological and evolutionary processes, and in managing direct and indirect anthropogenic changes. The objective of WP1 is to identify, standardise and aggregate spatial data relating to the historical and current distribution and trajectories of change of macroalgal forests. This activity will also aggregate information relating to the key pressures and stakeholders in the region which will provide critical contextual information to prioritise areas for future restoration initiatives. This will result in a map that can be used to identify degraded Cystoseira meadows in the Mediterranean Sea that are suitable for restoration. Special attention will be given to areas with a high potential to provide a wide range of marine ecosystem services (e.g., Marine Protected Areas, areas where pressures have been reduced but ecosystems have not returned to a healthy state). 

This WP has two objectives:

(1) the collection of historical and current data required to produce fine scale distribution maps of Cystoseira species and identify patterns and trends;

2) the supplementation of this information with relevant contextual information, for example, cumulative impacts map for the Mediterranean Sea (Micheli et al. 2014, Abdul Malak et al. 2015, local refinements during AFRIMED project) to select, by means of spatial analysis, priority areas in the Mediterranean deserving restoration actions

Applicants Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Demeter (HAO-DEMETER) and  Faculty of Sciences of Bizerte, University of Carthage (FSB) are co-leaders of this WP