Enhancing the value of coastal ecosystems
Widespread replacement of algal forests with less-complex turf algae threatens the functioning and services provided by coastal rocky ecosystems. The EU-funded project ECOCYST will conduct a comparative valuation of Mediterranean rocky shore fringe communities associated with different dominant macroalgal forms that potentially represent alternative stable states, from forests of the canopy-forming genus Cystoseira to turf-forming species. By employing stable isotope signatures and in situ tracing techniques, the project will assess value by measures of diversity, food web support, and ecosystem functions linked to services of nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and habitat provision. In collaboration with stakeholder networks, outcomes will contribute to the provision of a best-practice guide towards the development of management frameworks that enhance coastal ecosystem value.