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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Marine sponges as models for assessing biological effects of the Mediterranean Sea warming


Potential effects of global change act at different organisation levels from physiological to community level and can ultimately lead to a significant diversity loss and affect ecosystem functioning. Some of the expected effects of the global warming have already been detected in the NW Mediterranean, although not all have been related to a global change scenario. Moreover, many effects could be already acting but not yet visible though resulting in important phase-shifts events in the near future as observed in other habitats. Bearing in mind that the Mediterranean occupying only a 0.82 % of oceans surface harbours between the 4 to 18 % of marine biodiversity, potential effects of global change could have dramatic consequences for marine diversity conservation. Among the most severe impacts on marine biodiversity, a mass mortality occurred in the NWMediterranean in summer 1999. This event affected 30 species of invertebrates from 5 differentphylums, the most affected taxi being sponges and cnidarians. This mass mortality took place under an abnormal environmental context characterised by high and stable water column temperatures. In such conditions, the impacted invertebrates have probably reached their higher thermo tolerance, the exposure time having lethal consequences either directly, leading to some physiological depletion, and/or indirectly by triggering the virulence of pathogens. The main objective of the proposed programme is thus to better understand the cause of such mass mortality from an ecophysiological point of view and to propose bio indicators of the Mediterranean warming trend. It can be reasonably argued that biodiversity loss or widespread mortality manifests itself long after biochemical dysfunction, physiological abnormalities, and growth or reproduction impairment.

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Accés a la Cala St. Francesc, 14

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