Welcome to PAP/RAC Mediterranean Coastal Alert! This newsletter is regularly updated monthly. It contains abstracts of selected current articles and archives on various environmental themes, in particular those dealing with all aspects of coastal issues. The selection is made from the articles published in the leading international scientific journals. This newsletter is an excellent way of keeping you updated with coastal studies and processes.
Coastal erosion and storms represent a source of risk for settlements and infrastructure along the coast. At the same time, coastal natural assets, including landscape, are threatened by increasing development mainly driven by tourism. The Mediterranean coast is especially vulnerable to these processes, considering its high biological and cultural diversity. An additional challenge is represented by climate change, as it will force coastal communities to apply more or less drastic adaptation strategies. Coastal setbacks, used to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from storms and erosion, and to preserve coastal habitats and landscapes from degradation, is one of the main instruments suggested by the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the Barcelona Convention, entered into force on the 24 of March 2011. Its implementation has the potential to influence coastal policies in other regions, such as the neighbouring Black Sea.
The CONSCIENCE project has formalized concepts and conducted specific studies to provide new tools for coastal erosion management practice. The objective of this paper is to present a synthesis of the research conducted into coastal setbacks for coastal erosion management and climate change adaptation. This is done by analysing the requirement of the Protocol, current processes and management practices in two case study areas (Costa Brava Bays in Spain and Danube Delta, in Romania) and the new challenges posed by climate change.
Keywords: Coastal setbacks; Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the Barcelona Convention; The Mediterranean coast; The Black Sea; CONSCIENCE project.
Source: M. Sanò, A. Jiménez, R. Medina, A. Stanica, A. Sanchez-Arcilla and I. Trumbic (2011); “The role of coastal setbacks in the context of coastal erosion and climate change” (Original: “Managing coastal evolution in a more sustainable manner. The Conscience approach”, Article available online: 13 June 2011), Coastal & Ocean Management, Article in Press, Accepted manuscript; Received: 28 August 2010; Revised: 13 June 2011; Accepted: 14 June 2011; Available online: 29 June 2011 under DOI:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2011.06.008.
The links between species - environment relations and species’ responses to protection are unclear, but the objectives of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are most likely to be achieved when those relations are known and inform MPA design. The components of a species’ habitat vary with the spatial resolution of the area considered. We characterized areas at two resolutions: 250 m2 (transect) and approximately 30,000 m2 (seascape). We considered three categories of environmental variables: substrate type, bottom complexity, and depth. We sought to determine at which resolution habitat characteristics were a better predictor of abundance and species composition of fishes and whether the relations with environmental variables at either resolution affected species’ responses to protection. Habitat features accounted for a larger proportion of spatial variation in species composition and abundances than differences in protection status. This spatial variation was explained best by habitat characteristics at the seascape level than at the transect level. Species’ responses to protected areas were specific to particular seascape characteristics, primarily depth, and bottom complexity. Our method may be useful for prioritizing marine areas for protection, designing MPAs, and monitoring their effectiveness. It identified areas that provided natural shelter, areas acting as buffer zones, and areas where fish species were most responsive to protection. The identification of such areas is necessary for cost-effective establishment and monitoring of MPAs.
Keywords: Buffer zone; Full protection; Geographic Information System (GIS); Landscape ecology; Marine reserve; Partial protection; Seascape sampling unit.
Source: J. Claudet, J. A. García-Charton and P. Lenfant (1011); “Combined Effects of Levels of Protection and Environmental Variables at Different Spatial Resolutions on Fish Assemblages in a Marine Protected Area”, Conservation Biology, Volume 25, Issue 1, pages 105–114, February 2011; Article first published online: 21 October 2010 under DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01586.x.
The existence and distribution of European marine reef habitat (1170), defined as rocky substrates and biogenic concretions in the UE habitats Directive, remain incomplete especially for the Mediterranean region. It is necessary to cartography the habitats but also it is important to classify and develop tools to asses at adequate management scales. Rocky habitats occur in a variety of spatial configurations and pattering landscape. It is necessary to define a typology of landscape to permit a realistic comparison of similar units recognising, for example, its favourable conservation status. The aim of this study is to identify the rocky landscape units and to propose a hierarchical classification, for identifying the units with a favourable conservation status, based on the presence of listed species. Non-parametric multivariate techniques were used to classify the 88 landscape units based on presence of different biocoenoses and environmental factors. A hierarchical typology was recognised according to the increase of complexity. The study comprises six sorts of landscape typologies included in two major groups. High correlations of selected environmental variables with biocenosis composition were obtained depending on the scale of analysis. We observed that both geomorphologic structure and depth influence presence of biocenosis. The reef landscape typology proposal can be the base for the definition of reference ecological conditions or the favourable conservation state of the habitats; it is also an interesting tool for decision-making in the marine management.
Source: F. Giménez-Casalduero, F. J. Gomariz-Castillo and J. C. Calvín (2011); “Hierarchical classification of marine rocky landscape as management tool at southeast Mediterranean coast”, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 54, Issue 7, July 2011, pages 497-506; Available online: 5 April 2011 under DOI:10.1016/J.Ocecoaman.2011.03.001.
On the island of Ameland (The Netherlands), natural gas has been extracted from a dune and salt marsh natural area since 1986. This has caused a soil subsidence of c. 1–25 cm, which can be used as a model to infer effects of future sea level rise. The aims of our study were (a) to relate the changes in the vegetation, and more specifically, in plant diversity, during the extraction period to soil subsidence and weather fluctuations, and (b) to use these relations to predict future changes due to the combination of ongoing soil subsidence and climate change. We characterised climate change as increases in mean sea level, storm frequency and net precipitation. Simultaneous observations were made of vegetation composition, elevation, soil chemistry, net precipitation, groundwater level, and flooding frequency over the period 1986–2001. By using multiple regression the changes in the vegetation could be decomposed into (1) an oscillatory component due to fluctuations in net precipitation, (2) an oscillatory component due to incidental flooding, (3) a monotonous component due to soil subsidence, and (4) a monotonous component not related to any measured variable but probably due to eutrophication. The changes were generally small during the observation period, but the regression model predicts large changes by the year 2100 that are almost exclusively due to sea level rise. However, although sea level rise is expected to cause a loss of species, this does not necessarily lead to a loss of conservancy value.
Keywords: Plant diversity; Coastal wetland; Soil subsidence; Climate change; The Island of Ameland (The Netherlands).
Source: H. F. van Dobben and P. A. Slim (2011); “Past and future plant diversity of a coastal wetland driven by soil subsidence and climate change”, Climatic Change Journal; Received: 5 January 2010; Accepted: 16 May 2011; Published online: 21 June 2011 under DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0118-5.