Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PIONEER (The effect of seagrass bed habitat quality on selected ecosystem services)
Reporting period: 2018-01-08 to 2020-01-07
• To examine the influence of anthropogenic pressures on seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) habitat structure
• To evaluate the influence of seagrass habitat structure on fish assemblages and nursery and foraging areas for fish
• To study fishers’ perception of the importance of seagrass for the recreational fishing sector.
PIONEER provides relevant and timely information for the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status in all water bodies across EU member states by 2020.
• A review of published studies dealing with the response of fish communities to structural and configurational changes in seagrasses revealed that only 5% out of 90 studies examined measured functional aspects, the rest examined structural aspects (density and species richness). The work carried out under this MC project improves on the current state-of-the-art knowledge by examining the importance of seagrass for functional properties (size spectra, fish growth, fish body condition), thus addressing Good Environmental Status (GES) that maintain that both structure and function of ecosystems should be safeguarded.
• A comparison of stereo-remote underwater video (SRUV), diver survey and beam trawl survey techniques for fish population studies has been carried out as part of this work. This contributes towards a better understanding of survey techniques for studying aspects and drivers of marine fish population dynamics and for better informing science-based management.
• An examination of the spatio-temporal patterns and the quantification of anchoring pressure using Automatic Identification System (AIS) has been carried out during this project. This work provides important data for marine habitat conservation and marine spatial planning in the Balearic Islands. This will provide managers and practitioners with an essential tool to mitigate threat and to put adequate management measures in place to protect threatened habitats. Furthermore, the methodology developed during this work has wide applicability regionally and globally and can be adapted to other regions of the work to assess habitat vulnerability to boat anchoring.