Factors affecting Adriatic brown algal forests and solutions for habitat restoration

Holder: Martina Orlando-Bonaca, PhD

Code: J1-1702

Duration: 1.7.2019 – 30.6.2022

The authors acknowledge the project J1-1702 was financially supported by the Slovenian Research Agency.

Project Description

Canopy-forming species are widespread in the Mediterranean coastal area, and represent the final stage of the succession of photophilic algal communities on hard substrata. Among them, brown algal species of the genus Cystoseira play an important role as habitat-building species since their three-dimensional structure provides habitat and shelter for many smaller algae, invertebrates and fish on rocky bottom. In the last decade, many researchers observed that coastal ecosystems are subjected to multiple anthropogenic stressors, which result in shifts between alternative habitats. Since Cystoseira species follow long-term periodicity, their disappearance from a coastal rocky-bottom site should be considered as indicative of environmental degradation. Some Cystoseira species were already driven to regional extinction in the Mediterranean Sea, and also in the Slovenian sea we are witnessing a trend of regression of brown algal forests.

The overall objectives of the proposed research project are to assess the status and distribution of brown algal forests in Slovenian coastal waters, identify the causes for their regression, propose conservation measures, and prepare and test some restoration actions. Within the project we are planning to: prepare the cartography of brown algal forests along the Slovenian coastal belt, identify the most important anthropogenic pressures, assess the value of brown algal forests for the coastal fish community, culture Cystoseira in controlled rooms, and transplantate Cystoseira cultured juveniles into the natural environment.

Researchers - link to database SICRIS

Information about the project - link to database SICRIS