From river catchement areas to the sea : a comparative and integrated approach to the ecology of mediterranean coastal zones for sustainable management
Socioeconomic baseline study: The purpose of such baseline study was to provide an assessment of socioeconomic conditions in Rosetta area (Egyptian site). Such a baseline assessment will contribute largely to develop conceptual and operational guidelines for attaining sustainable development. The Study provided a comprehensive profile about the Egyptian study site including: - A background information about the Egyptian site in terms of demographic characteristics, economic structure and land use. - A description of the field work conducted in Rosetta area to collect detailed, updated and accurate data on socioeconomic conditions in the area. - Areas of concern and main issues in the area. Physical baseline study: The main objective of physical baseline study was to assess the environmental conditions prevailing in the area, in terms of air and water quality. Biological baseline study: Such a study aimed at assessing the diversity and distribution of macrobenthos and fish in Egyptian site. The study was based on data collected through five bi-monthly sampling journey from October 2003 to July 2004. The study indicated that the most productive sites are located far away the Rosetta estuary (Edku and Abu Qir sites) which showed a high degree of similarity in terms of macrobenthic community.
A logo has been designed in the occasion of the final conference of the MEDCORE project and the exhibition DOMESTIC MEDITERRANEAN (result 38306). It reminds to a hieroglyphic and represents a stylised "Phoenician eye" that is often painted on fisher boats around the Mediterranean. For fishermen it has clearly an apotropaic meaning. Our "eye" sails like a small boat on a wave, meaning "adventure", the adventure of working together in a project. MEDCORE scientists are exploring the Mediterranean with a curious eye. This attitude derives from an ancient tradition, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Poenicians, Ulixes, the Alexandrines, the Arabs...). The logo has been retained for the following project WADI, changing colours with the different events.
IMBC got in hold of Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) Browse Images for MEDCORE study sites in Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt for the period 1999-2002 (one or two images for most months in the time-series). Image browses have been distributed among MEDCORE partners in CD-ROMs. As noted in the distribution CD-ROM, browse images were in reduced resolution. This was found necessary in order to get in hold of a long time-series of images for most study sites as well as to allow partners to produce indices of environmental changes in land types and coastline migration.
Technical protocols tuned to local needs to estimate macro and meiofauna diversity in the intertidal zone of the beach
Two technical protocols are included in this deliverable for the benthic fauna: the first refers to the benthic macrofauna and the second to the benthic meiofauna. All organisms that can be retained in a 0.5 mm sieve are included in the first category, as far as the Mediterranean habitats are concerned; organisms with maximum dimension between 60µm and 0.5 mm are included in what is called the "meiofaunal fraction (/component)". In this deliverable the equipement and the sampling process to be followed for both components are provided in order to disseminate an accurate and state-of-the-art protocol. Both components are cited among the corner stones of the biodiversity research in benthic marine ecosystems. Details on the measurement of the potentially associated environmental variables are also included in the protocols.Both protocols are provided in an easy and simple manner so that even non-trained personnel can use it with little chance of mistakes.
Databases on the macrobenthic assemblages of the inter- and subtidal Mediterranean habitats will soon be freely available from the Project web site. These databases (in the form of .xls files) are also included in the Final Report of the Project. Quantitative data (systematic, intensive) are coming from 2 Mediterranean localities (Crete, Greece and MAREMMA, Italy) and qualitative data on the macrobenthic assemblages of the sandy beach habitat have been collected from the relevant literature, for approximatelly 100 studied sandy beaches. Extensive data on the associated environmetal variables have been collected from 3 Mediterranean localities (Crete, MAREMMA and Tabarka (Tunisia)). Graphical, uni- and multivariate mathematical approaches have been applied in order to observe (bio)diversity patterns in the Mediterranean sandy beach environment. Result are available through a series of scientific documents.
From the presentation of the volume by the editor Felicita Scapini,The Mediterranean coastal areas from watershed to the sea: interactions and changes, in press 2006, Firenze University Press : "The MEDCORE project funded by the EC, ICA-3-CT2002-10003, was carried out from 2002 to 2005 by a consortium of researchers from nine European and Mediterranean partner countries. It focused on a number of selected coastal areas, with particular attention to the interactions and links between elements. Multidisciplinary research and integration of expertise characterised our approach. The international conference, Florence on 10th-14th November 2005, aimed at presenting the main scientific achievements of the project, at extending the collaboration to other interested students and researchers and starting new scientific interactions. Despite the variation of the presentations, we wanted to collect them in a volume to show that interactive research is possible and to build a baseline for an innovative interdisciplinary perspective. Some of the articles of this volume have already started an effort in this sense, other can be used for further developments towards interdisciplinary research. Before starting any interaction, it is important to come together and to know what the colleagues do and what are their approaches and achievements. A cross-reading of the articles will represent a starting point towards integration. The Mediterranean coastal zone can be considered a centre of interactions at different levels. Sea and land ecosystems here are in contact, coasts extend as a continuous line around a common sea that has represented a space for trades and wars along with the human history, the rivers link the inland and coastal zones and have been the main ROADS of interchanges and development. We have found difficult to define the spatial and temporal scales of our research because each subject of study has its scale. The times of humans, animals, plants and micro-organisms are not the same, depending on the life span of individuals, the turn-over of generations, the historical events and the geological changes. Also their spatial influences vary and the texture can be very different, from the whole Mediterranean Basin, to defined zones and habitats, to particular spots. But all contribute to the sustainability of the ecosystems the more the interactions, the higher the sustainability. Beaches are paradigmatic, as they link terrestrial and marine environments, and are threatened both by land and sea impacts. Their economic importance is evident along with their fragility as ecosystems. Interactions between elements in a system are only in minimal part competition and struggle for life or negative impacts, as is often expressed when human culture and nature are considered, but they are mainly conjunctions and in some cases cooperation. An interaction or conjunction is always found when spatial and temporal scales of different elements overlap. It would be interesting to explore the outcome of these conjunctions in view of the sustainability of the coastal systems across the Mediterranean. In this perspective, there is no contrast between nature and culture, and conservation of natural elements should be compatible with human uses, environmental management and development. The layout of this volume has derived from the above said. We followed a SCALE logic, from the general to the particular, from the macro-scale to the micro-scale. Consequently, history and geography come first, socio-economy and management follow, then the river basin with the diversity of habitats it offers along its course, the extended dune and beach environments and the coastal waters. Temporally we analysed pre-historical and historical times, generations and seasons, from the long term to the medium and the short ones. Overlaps between compartments and phenomena are frequent and most of the authors have stressed them. In some articles, on the other hand such relations were not stressed, whenever they are present. We hope that this volume will offer new inputs and ideas to interested students and researchers, to foster attention in the links between ecosystems compartments and, methodologically, between disciplines. MEDCORE Proceedings should represent a starting point towards further integration. We invite both the authors and readers to suggest further developments to enhance an integrated sustainable development of Mediterranean coastal zones, which is pressingly needed in this region that has experienced rapid global and GLOCAL developments. The Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze has sponsored the printing of 500 volumes, which will be distributed freely upon request and put in the internet as a PDF file by the Firenze University Press. Each of the 30 articles published was subjected to peer review by two independent experts.
In the context of the MEDCORE project, a variety of issues concerning habitatęs analysis, degradation problems and management problems in Mediterranean coastal areas were described and in some areas as in MAREMMA park ended up with the formulation of the most critical concerns over the sustainable management of the area. A set of issues for this area derived by using Soft System Analysis. These issues were considered appropriate to be transformed into criteria for performing a multi-criteria evaluation of the MAREMMA park by relevant stakeholders. The aim of applying this methodology was not only to analyze the specifics of the particular case study but also to propose a structured approach useful for environmental decision makers who face continuously integration problems, posed by multiple interests over multiple environmental issues.
The problem was to estimate the effects of multiple environmental variables on orientation in tests conducted under natural conditions. The statistical analysis of the effects of factors on the circular response was carried out by assuming a Projected Normal distribution of the directions, instead of the usual von Mises. We used a regression model proposed by Presnell et al. (Presnell B, Morrison S P, Littel R C, J. Amer. Stat. Ass. 93, 443: 1068-1067, 1998) which they call Projected Multivariate Linear Model (PMLM).We chose to use this model as other previously proposed methods suffered from difficulties in the computation of parameters estimates (probably this is one of the causes that regression methods are so little used in the analysis of directional data). This is a parametric model which assumes that the directions in every combination of the factors are distributed as Projected Normals, i.e. like the projections onto the unit circle of a bivariate standard normal distribution. Any von Mises distribution is closely approximated by a projected normal with the same circular mean and mean resultant vector. The Projected Normal Distribution can be parameterized with the mean vector of the bivariate normal distribution. This is called Projected Normal Parameter (PNP) for convenience. This is to be intended as a latent point of the plane whose polar co-ordinates indicate (a) the mean direction (the angle made by the vector) and (b) the concentration around this direction (the length of the vector), the further the point from the origin the more concentrated the response. The model then assumes that the position of the mean of the bivariate normal is a function of the explanatory variables. Both the mean direction and the mean resultant length depend on the explanatory variables (predictors). When all the explanatory variables are qualitative (i.e. factors) the model is analogous to a multiway analysis of variance model with or without interactions. A model with the full set of interactions specifies a different Projected Normal for each combination of the levels of the factors. This model obviously can have a huge number of parameters (two for each cell) and thus simpler models can be advantageous if they do not deviate significantly from it. The additive analysis of variance model predicts that the PNPs (the mean vectors of the bivariate normal) follow a simple "parallelogram rule", i.e. the points corresponding to each combination of levels of two factors must form a parallelogram. The models are fitted by maximum likelihood using the EM algorithm. With this approach several multifactor analysis of variance models can be fitted to the data. One of the advantages of the method proposed is the possibility of exploring many models including a large number of main effects and interactions. This involves a model selection stage in the analysis, in which several models are compared. All tests are based on the likelihood ratio statistic, with the relevant null asymptotic chi square distribution. However, the choice of a final parsimonious model is based on the Akaike information criterion (AIC). On the basis of this criterion which is a kind of penalized likelihood by which non nested models can also be compared, the best models are those with the lowest AIC. There is no generally accepted measure of the overall fit of regression models for circular data. In this case the problem is complicated by the fact that the model allows varying concentrations. Note that the amount of unexplained variability can also be appraised from the estimated mean resultant vectors within the groups. The analysis of residuals should help in checking the model, and in detecting systematic as well isolated departures from the model. Two important checks should concern the assumption (a) of the Projected Normal Distribution for the directions and (b) the additivity of the analysis of variance model. This could be the object of a future methodological study.
Ecological indicators in coastal and estuarine environmental quality assessment. A user friendly guide for practitioners
Experience demonstrates that none of the available measures on biological effects of pollution should be considered ideal. The use of a single approach does not seem appropriate due to the complexity inherent in assessing the environmental quality of a system. Rather, this should be evaluated by combining a suite of indices providing complementary information. Having this in mind, a decision tree was built in this work with the aim of helping managers and authorities of coastal areas in selecting the most suitable ecological indicators taking into account the type of disturbance and the data available. Such decision tree includes numerous indices based on benthic invertebrate fauna information, because in the case of coastal and transitional waters ecosystems there is a clear preference for benthic communities, which integrate environmental conditions and changes in an a very effective way if we want to monitor long-term responses and site-specific impacts. The development of this guide was based not only on theoretical approaches, but also on results from its application using data bases corresponding to different geographical areas (the Mondego estuary, in the North-Western Coast of Portugal, and Mar Menor, Escombreras basin, and Cabo Tiñoso in the South-Eastern coast of Spain). Some recommendations are provided with regard to the most adequate application of the indices, as for example, in what situations it is not advisable the use of some of them, depending on the type of disturbance or the level of taxonomic identification of the organisms.
The book written by the Moroccan medician Mustafa Akmisse explores the traditional medicine in Morocco and the use of medicinal plants, animals and minerals. A comparison with similar traditions around the Mediterranean was interesting in the aims of the MEDCORE project. We submitted the idea to an Italian editor and translated the Moroccan book into Italian. Particularly interesting is the lexicon at the end of the volume. The names of minerals, plants and animals are reported in Italian and dialectal Arabic. Dr. Daniela Bencivenni, anthropologist and expert in medicinal plants, wrote the presentation of the volume, with a mention of the project MEDCORE and the importance of Mediterranean collaboration in view of retrieving and conserving the Mediterranean traditional heritage.
Pinus pinea woods stretch over a large area along the coasts of Italy, mostly, in Tuscany and Lazio. These woods derive from afforestations done during the XX century, even if the cultivation of pine was practised long time before with different criteria, to create a shelterbelt protecting the interior settlements and farmland from sea winds, to fix coastal dunes and to produce the seed (pinolo) highly appreciated for nutrition. Through time their aesthetic value was more and more appreciated so that they became a relevant part of the landscape important also for recreational activities. During the last decades some relevant environmental processes developed and influenced to pinewoods. The most relevant locally is the coast erosion, a phenomenon taking place in several sandy coasts of the Mediterranean. Current data show that about 25 % of European coastlines experiences erosion (EEA, 2006); of course as recently remarked by the EEA (2006), erosion is a natural process which allows accretion in other parts of the coastline and it is not negative per se, but becomes a risk for settlements and human population. In 10 out of 12 countries where over-exploitation of groundwater are reported, saltwater intrusion results (EEA, 2006). Besides large areas of the Mediterranean coastline in Italy, Spain and Turkey are reported to be affected by saltwater intrusion (EEA, 2003 c.f. EEA 2006). The salinity of the water table is, apparently, influenced by this event, but in the same direction, that is an increase in water table salinity, act the reduction of precipitations (especially during the winter period) and the increased water consumption for domestic and agricultural purposes. Water table salinisation is hindering sap flow and therefore stresses pines physiology. This fact increases also the susceptibility of trees to insect attacks (mainly Tomicus destruens) which kill the pines. The results of our research show quite clearly, within an important pinewood of the Southern coast of Tuscany, the Pineta di Alberese, included in the Regional Nature Park of Maremma, the relevant environmental factors (precipitation, water table level , variations, salinity) and the connections with pine’s sap flow. The situation of the Pineta di Alberese is representative of most coastal pinewoods as far as the environment (climate, soils, water table), the traditional production (pine cones have a substantial economic role; timber production and grazing are rarely relevant), soil protection and shelterbelt function. From the economic point of view the recreation use is the most important, since pinewoods are highly appreciated not only as a camping ground but also as a typical landscape element. It is therefore extremely important to increase the stability of these woods. The problems should be faced in various ways: reducing coast erosion, reducing the water consumption by agriculture, gardening and other civil uses, reducing water consumption by forest vegetation. Our research has shown that thinnings of young stands and reduction of shrub density can improve the water budget of the tree layer. The impact of heavy machinery in forestry operations should be monitored to prevent soil compaction. Obviously these silvicultural measures should be adopted only when other characteristics and functions of woods (soil protection, biodiversity, fire danger etc.) have been taken into account. References: EEA, 2003. Europe's water: An indicator-based assessment. Topic report No 1/2003. EEA, 2006. The changing faces of Europe's coastal areas. Topic report No 6/2006.
The results obtained within the MEDCORE project about sandy shore ecosystems were used for environmental education at primary school level, in order to disseminate an updated scientific information starting from local level. The final aim was to give local people a tool to improve the understanding of their own environment. Such kind of knowledge and interest about the resources and the problems related to a given scenario, is needed to achieve the responsible use of sandy beach resources. We involved schoolchildren because, as a matter of fact, they can experience at the same time the traditional knowledge of the relatives continuously updated through time (local experience), and the standardised school programs (general experience). The local public school "El Jomhouria" (i.e. The Republic) in Nefza was involved in the dissemination project. Researchers and teachers planned the following jointed activity and set up a test. This was submitted to the children before and after the planned activity. The aim of such activity was to identify key concepts related to the beach-dune ecosystem, to analyse their perception and finally to discuss and integrate the emerging information with that coming from scientific knowledge. Indirectly, observations in nature were possible on the beach-dune ecosystem. Topics of the activity were: Definition of the beach-dune environment (abiotic and biotic); Relationships between ecological components of the beach-dune system; Internal and external features acting on a beach; Human behaviour on a beach and different human impacts.
The printed brochure presented the MEDCORE project to the public and was distributed (1000 copies) at the end of the MEDCORE project, at the same time of the final international conference of the project Mediterranean coastal areas from watershed to the sea: interactions and changes, to advertise the exhibition (see the result: exhibition Domestic Mediterranean). The brochure is the result of a group-work and was ideated by the young Italian researchers who participated in the project, helped by the designers of a small local enterprise Agilelogica, who also designed a logo for the event. This has been retained as logo of the consortium(result 38589). The front and back image of the brochure represents the whole Mediterranean, with no indications of national borders (the Mediterranean as an unit); the word Mediterranean is written by hand, as a travel notation, and in Arabic. The title DOMESTIC MEDITERRANEAN focuses on the fact that we consider the Mediterranean as home, where we live and have our roots, not an exotic country. The subtitle SCIENCE AS A LINK BETWEEN CULTURES repeats a sentence expressed by the Italian Ambassador to our research group in occasion of an international meeting in Tunis at the beginning of 2002. The second subtitle IMAGES FROM FIELDWORK stresses on the fact that we have been worked together on the field. In the back page the project is explained in few words: MEDCORE PROJECT aims at preserving the natural resources of Mediterranean coastal areas by contributing to their sustainable management. Some of these resources, as marine waters, fisheries, fresh waters, coastal forests, agriculture, habitat and species diversity, recreational areas, are very important at the national and international levels. Baseline scientific surveys on selected coastal sites, in Italy, Spain, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, were conducted aiming at a better understanding of existing linkages of the various components, to promote the common Mediterranean culture and rediscover its value. Other texts inside the brochure are: THE EXPOSITION tells the story through images of an international experience of scientific research conducted in countries around the Mediterranean, in the framework of a project funded by the European Union (programme INCO-MED) titled: From river basin to the sea, a comparative and integrated study of the ecosystems of the coastal zones of the Mediterranean for a sustainable management. Scientific collaboration can become means of interaction between people to rediscover values in a Mediterranean that too often forgets its own common origins and history. SCIENCE AS A LINK. Art and science are always been cooperating, resisting to political events, by integrating knowledge, learning new values and recovering the idea of a geographic and cultural unit. COASTAL ENVIRONMENT. Thanks to its geographic position, the Mediterranean was in the past the place where cultures arose, and has been the place where cultures and trades met, an unifying element of peoples who live on its coasts.PEOPLE AND CULTURE. Going through markets in small and big towns, we experience difference cultures and traditions, but also recognise the common footprint of people, who have been living beside each other in a continuum of known characters. These texts comment pictures taken by the partners at Oued Laou and Chauen (Morocco), Rosetta (Egypt), Tabarka (Tunisia). There is also a picture of the participants drinking water during a pause under olive trees in the Maremma Regional Park (Italy).
Seagrasses are very sensitive to anthropogenic disturbances, and this property makes this organism much suitable as environmental quality bioindicators. In the framework of MEDCORE, a series of seagrass health descriptors was tested on different areas (see result 38309). Based on these data, we developped a multivariate method to combine the different descriptors into a single index expressing seagrass health and indicating coastal water status. This methodology, which was partially developped on a national basis but was widely tested in the trans-national framework of MEDCORE, is aimed at the diagnose of the coastal water status, and is compliant with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive of the UE.
Bioassays to monitor environmental changes are based on the fact that organisms interact holistically with their environment, and any change in one or more environmental parameters (even unknown) can in principle be detected by observing changes in the organism. Bioassays can be used as early warning indicators of impacts and changes and are very sensitive. Some environmental changes cannot be detected instrumentally unless very sensitive (and generally costly) instruments are used, and some relevant variables can be overlooked by human observers. Organisms can be extremely sensitive, they integrate trends of changes and respond to several factors as an unit, which separately could be not detected. Another good reason to use bioassays in monitoring programmes is that we humans are organisms, and it is likely that an impact negative to an animal would be negative also to humans. Exploiting sympathy towards animals, the public can easily be convinced of the importance of the adoption of measures to protect environment against impacts. For this reason, campaigns to protect some flag animals have helped to protect important habitats. This is the case of marine turtles for beaches. But, when beaches start degrading, turtles simply do not come to these beaches, which are then considered dead habitats. This is by no means true. Beach ecosystems are valuable in themselves and all possible measures should be undertaken to preserve beaches and warn against their degradation. We have proposed simple bioassays based on behavioural variation of very common animals, the talitrid sandhoppers, small crustaceans living on sand beaches. These are abundant in most temperate beaches, with a number of related species. They are strictly adapted to the beach environment, rather robust and capable to rapidly re-colonise impacted beaches. We developed bioassays based on behavioural variation, which can be easily and rapidly estimated with simple tests on the beach self. Orientation to the shoreline is a quantitative behaviour, easily to analyse and interpret (results 38301 and 38224). At one of the study sites of the MEDCORE project, in southern Tuscany, Italy, we tested the possibility of applying a bioassay based on orientation of sandhoppers to monitor beach erosion/accretion trend. Beach profiling is the usual method to monitor beach erosion, but it shouldn’t be used as a snapshot monitoring because it is strongly dependent on seasonal, climatic and tidal changes. Our hypothesis was that animals living on a beach know its trend of change and will orient accordingly. We tested this hypothesis by comparing four points distant one kilometer from each other on a beach subject to erosion near the river mouth and accretion at the opposite side. Comparing the distributions of orientation of sandhoppers tested in the four points at the same time by different teams, we could determine which was the equilibrium point of the shoreline. In fact the orientation of sandhoppers at that point was perfectly adapted to the orientation of the shoreline, while at the eroded and the accreting point we found higher scatter in orientation. At another study site, on the north-western Mediterranean coast of Morocco, we found differences in orientation depending on the different uses of the beach: at one point there was no human impact except trampling in summer, while at the other site constructions directly impacted the beach. The application of this bioassay in monitoring beach degradation in long term monitoring, seems too simple when it is proposed to coastal managers. However it is based on a sound scientific background (see the documentation). We are further testing the method to compare beaches subject to different impacts on other coasts (eastern and southern Atlantic, Pacific, Baltic), with the collaboration of different teams of ecologists and geo-morphologists. We look forward to enhance the awareness of coastal mangers towards the organisms living on beaches and the importance of monitoring impacts.
We prepared an exhibition entitled Domestic Mediterranean for the public beyond scientists. The target public were the visitors to the museums of Florence, namely the Natural History Museum where the exhibition was shown first. This public was composed by citizen, schools and numerous international tourists from Europe, Japan, south and north America. Therefore we decided to explain the panels both in Italian and English and to use images as much as possible. The exhibition is composed of 16 plastic PVC panels of 2.2 X 1.2 m, which describe the project, its rationale and achievements using images, simple sentences, reminding and focusing key ideas and results. The exhibition was integrated by a photo-show and background music. It was presented in Florence (in Italian and English, November 2005 and January 2006). It was advertised at the MEDCORE international conference and with posters and brochure (result 38306) exposed at the different departments of the University of Florence, in schools, in regional and city offices, in the city daily paper La Nazione. In December 2005, a similar exhibition was prepared in Tunis by the APAL, adapted to the Tunisian environment and focused on littoral environments, which are the mandate of this governmental institution. The panels were written in French and Arabic. The panels written in Italian and English, have been sent to Malta (July 2006), where authorities will be officially invited. Adaptations to other countries will follow suit. The exhibition or the PDF files are available at request; compressed images of the panels are shown in the web site of MEDCORE. The aim of the exhibition was to pass the message on to the public of laymen in a direct way. The Mediterranean is presented as an historical and cultural unit, coasts are described as a continuous line linking countries and people, with shared common issues and values worth of conservation. It is stressed that the natural and cultural heritage belong to people, women and children participating as actors in the conservation of such heritage. They know the important links to the environment, and we should learn from them how to manage it in a sustainable manner. The exhibition is a thematic journey, and each panel is numbered to invite visitors to follow the route indicated; key words are focused and explained in each panel; images from different Mediterranean countries are mixed in the same panels, to stress the common heritage. Contents and keywords of the panels: (1) Introduction (Domestic Mediterranean); (2) Names of the Mediterranean (in Hebrew, Persian, Latin, Arabic); (3) Sabir (the ancient trade language); (4) Projects (MECO, Mediterranean Coastal Ecosystems; MEDCORE, Mediterranean Coastal River Ecosystems; WADI, Water demand Integration); (5) Actors (science as a meeting point, our portraits, our institutions); (6) Places (the diversity of the project study sites from watershed to the sea, in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Italy); (7) Activities (learn, plan, communicate, images from fieldwork); (8) Water (a seed for life, a resource to be managed and distributed); (9) Sand (a flow from the mountains to the beach and sea); (10) Beach (a link, a crossing point, a window to the sea, a sacred place, our traces on sand disappear); (11) Diversity (richness, variation, health); (12) Local knowledge (awareness, continuity, sustainability); (13) Cultural heritage (to understand places and people); (14) Environmental management (comparison, integration, sustainability); (15) Environmental education, Children (curiosity, play, attention); (16) Woman (house, subsistence agriculture, the use of the environment, knowledge from grandmothers to mothers to daughters). It is planned to make a booklet of the panels and a sponsor is searched for.
As logo of the MEDCORE project we asked an artist, Luigi Scapini, who has designed several sets of tarot cards, to explain the rationale and contents of the project in a picture. He painted a river mouth generating a beach, shown in the front of the picture. In the back, he represented hills and mountains (the inland); on the right side of the river, there is a port city (the human settlement); on the left, there are some ruins (the past heritage) and a small fisher village (the cultural tradition); two boats are sailing in the river (man explores the wide world using the river as a road); the natural components are represented by the beach where two marine turtles are landing, a lagoon with pink flamingos, typical Mediterranean plants, birds and fish. It is worth noting that most of the elements represented in this picture are symbols of link, e.g. the migratory birds, fish and turtles, boats and the river self. The sky above the landscape is charged of clouds, preparing a waterfall (benefit) or a storm (risk). This picture has been used in all the presentations of the project at the general meetings, in the poster of the final conference, in the cover pages of the Abstract volume and Proceedingsof the conference, in the home page of the web site. It was also printed on the cotton shopper that was distributed at the final international conference. The shopper was made of a natural material (cotton) by a small local enterprise.
Animal behavioural adaptations to environment are diversified according to variation in ecological features. We estimated behavioural adaptations in small, common animals (crustacean amphipods) living on beaches and at the edges of humid coastal environments (lagoons, river mouths, canals, entrance of a cave, etc.). We choose measurable descriptors, easy to record and to control, such as orientation on dry or wet substrates and activity rhythms under laboratory control conditions. Orientation would help the animals to rapidly find the optimal conditions when displaced, e.g. the shoreline when displaced on the dry upper beach. As a result of circadian rhythmicity the animals are active at night avoiding harsh conditions of dryness and high temperatures. The rationale behind this study is that 1) each population is adapted to the environment where it lives; 2) behavioural adaptations are more precise in harsh habitats where they have a higher survival value than in habitats where animals can easily find what they need (e.g. a animals living on a beach are subject to higher selective pressure with respect to similar animals from a constantly humid zone), and 3) new colonising populations or populations living in rapidly changing environments would show less precise adaptations (behavioural flexibility) with respect to animals from more stable environments. To test these hypotheses we tested orientation and activity rhythms in different populations from different habitats at the study sites of the project. Orientation and activity are measurable behaviours and the tests are easy to perform and replicate. Orientation is expressed as a direction (angle to the north or with respect to an expected direction, such as the direction of the sea on a beach). Distributions of angles can be analysed using the statistics of circular distributions. Current software packages of statistics do not contain the statistics of circular distributions, and we prepared ad hoc software running in S-Plus environment, available at request (result 38224). Time series of the locomotor activity permit to estimate the period (circadian, e.g. around 24 hours, or circatidal, around 12 hours), the signal to noise ratio and the phase. We used ad hoc software also in this case, prepared by D. Green, School of Bioscience, University of Birmingham. For each population we calculated mean values and the variation of the behaviour within the sample; we compared samples from different seasons, from different populations and different species. We performed a regression analysis of orientation with the environmental and intrinsic (depending on the animals) conditions (see the result: 38224 for details). The background information for each study site gathered from other work packages helped the interpretation of the behavioural tests, and, conversely, we learned from the behavioural adaptations of the animals how suitable these sites were to them and estimated the impacts. In principle, the behaviour expressed by an animal integrates past experience on the environment where it lives, and an estimate of behaviour would be more informative than snapshots estimates of environmental variables. We used always the same techniques and protocols to build a data base, which would be useful for comparative studies of coastal areas in the Mediterranean coasts and the European Atlantic and Baltic ones, where the same species live. The survey has been extended to other related species south-American coasts, in Chile and Uruguay. This geographic extension will permit an evolutionary approach. Data bases of behavioural variation of beach arthropods are being prepared for wide dissemination in the web. The dissemination of the results has been made in scientific conferences by the authors of the experiments, in scientific journals with impact factor, in university texts on ethology and in the web www.meco.unifi.it and www.medcore.unifi.it . The potential use of this knowledge is in basic biological research with high euristic potential, as biodiversity is here analysed at different levels, individual, intra-population, inter-population, geographic). Moreover the question of genetic versus environmental adaptation is still an open question in ethology and evolutionary science. Students of all ages (from elementary to adult education) are generally interested in behavioural studies, and this represents a very good example of connecting behaviour with the environment. From ethical point of view, such behavioural experiments do not disturb the small common animals observed. The attention of the students and public will be focused on the importance of the conservation of habitat diversity. Behavioural studies start from the point of view of the animals, integrated in their habitats.
Coastal areas, at the global level, hold a major proportion of population and economic activities, which depend mostly on the environment and its natural resources such as agriculture, fishing, tourism and industry. Such conditions reflect the importance of coastal areas and their natural resources to the welfare of the communities living in these areas. Human activities, meanwhile, usually involve a wide range of negative impacts on the environment, especially if these activities were either unplanned or exceeded the carrying capacity of the environment. This meant increasing the pressures on the environment and natural resources and thus threatening the chances of attaining sustainable development in these areas. Such conditions, accordingly, require proper management of the coastal areas that integrates human activities within a coherent setting of planning policies that address environmental carrying capacity. For such management to be effective, proper and in-depth study of various socioeconomic, as well as environmental conditions, prevailing in coastal areas need to be undertaken in an integrated manner. It is usually argued that great similarities do exist between different coastal areas of the Mediterranean region, not only in terms of environmental conditions, but also socioeconomic conditions. Such similarities, and despite possible differences, have promoted calls for developing a common guidelines for coastal zone management in the region. This paper intends to conduct a comparative analysis of socioeconomic conditions in two southern Mediterranean sites; namely Rosetta area (Egypt) and Oued Laou area (Morocco). This analysis intends to pinpoint the main similarities as well as differences between both sites, in order to assess the potential for setting broad guidelines to attain sustainable development in the Mediterranean region in general. The work conducted in the two sites, which involved significant field work, showed that great similarities in terms of socioeconomic conditions in the two sites do exist. The study also found that deteriorating environmental conditions have adversely affected those communities, especially the poor, and the vicious circle between environmental deterioration and poverty does exist. Such conditions, meanwhile, require substantial development efforts that take into account environmental consideration.
At the end of the MEDCORE project we organised an international conference: The Mediterranean coastal areas from watershed to the sea: interactions and changes, Florence 10-14 November 2006. From the presentation of the Abstract Volume by Felicita Scapini: Integration in the Mediterranean is a challenge. The same waters wash different countries and continents, and the coasts are a continuous line linking a great diversity of cultures, people, environments and organisms. Also science can represent a link, and common research projects are the first step towards integration. This conference is characterised by disciplinary diversity: history, geography, socio-economy and ecology. We thank the delegates for their efforts towards a common language, beyond cultural and disciplinary specificity. The aim of this conference is to integrate and disseminate scientific results at the advantage of the people living in Mediterranean coastal areas, to preserve the natural heritage for the future generations. In the framework of the INCO-MED EU Programme, we have conducted environmental research since 1998, and established a network of researchers across the Mediterranean. Other researchers have joined this conference as well as environmental managers, who share the interest of understanding and protecting the Mediterranean ecosystems. The venue of this conference, Florence, is more or less central in the Mediterranean basin, and its monuments are signs of a long history of interactions. The University of Florence that hosts this pan-Mediterranean conference, has a strong experience of international collaboration and has started several joint projects with other universities of Mediterranean partner countries to foster high formation and research. The abstracts of spoken and poster presentations were printed in a small handy volume by the Firenze Universiy Press, 2005, of 109 pages, with the picture-logo of the project by the artist Luigi Scapini in the cover (result 38303). In the first pages the sponsor and patronising institutions are indicated (the logos are found in the back cover), the scientific and organising committees, the programme of the conference, the index of the volume, the list of authors with addresses and e-mails. The abstracts of oral and poster contributions are in English or French, of one to two pages each. In the appendix, two longer articles were printed, which describe the two places visited during the field excursion: the Biogenetic Nature Reserve of Montefalcone, and the Fucecchio Marshes, both in Tuscany, Italy. The number of abstracts published is 70 (55 thereof from the MEDCORE project), in alphabetic order to be easily found. The authors are 120 from 16 countries. In the programme of the conference the contributions were distributed to different sessions, with topics from general to particular: The general framework, Socioeconomic aspects, Changes in habitats and landscapes, Marine ecology aspects, Sandy beach environment, Genetic aspects and behavioural adaptation, and Diversity in the catchment areas. We printed 300 volumes to distribute during the conference. More at available at request. A PDF file of the volume is freely available in the internet: http://eprints.unifi.it/archive/00001115/.
One of the study sites of the MEDCORE project has been the Maremma Regional Park, a protected coastal area established in 1976 for its natural and cultural value. Since then thousands of visitors went to the park and tens of researchers conducted their studies in the area. Some specific documentation has been distributed and sold in the visitors centre of the Park, but a comprehensive guide was missing, which would drive attention to the integration between compartments, to the existing issues, changes and management. We decided to fill this gap and produce a guide for the public at an intermediate level between scientific and a popular book. The book would be written in Italian in a scientifically correct language but not technical, and have colour attractive pictures. The book is subdivided in four sections and chapters covering a large range of topics, that were not covered by the existing information on the park. Several authors contributed to the book and presented first hand research and results from the MEDCORE project and other related local projects. The volume is ready for printing in Italian and we look for sponsors to prepare translations in English and German, as the international tourists visiting the park would be interested in it. Considering that the target readers are mainly tourists visiting or planning to visit the park, school classes and students, the book will be sold by the Parco at the Centro Visite; therefore the costs for printing will be paid by the Parco and the Publisher. It was agreed that people who have paid for a book are more likely to read it than to read a book received for free. The EU and the MEDCORE will be acknowledged for the support to the research. Contents of the Book: Introduction; Part 1. The geographic context (presentation of the area, geography, geomorphology, hydrography, climate, the cartographic image through time, the dynamics of the Ombrone River mouth and the coast, the rocky shore, the caves, the vegetal lanscape); Part II. Animal biodiversity (mammals, marsh birds, butterflies, coleopterans and isopods in the different habitats of the park, animals in the canals, arthropods in the underground waters); Part III. From land to sea (sedimentological dynamics and coastal dune development, beach-dune system, genetic diversity of beach sandhoppers, sandhoppers on the move from land to sea, wrack on the beach, small animals in the intertidal zone, life in sand and its ecological role, underwater seagrass meadows); Part IV. The links between man and the park, history and traditions (the history of the area; a literary description when it was a marsh in 800; the rural buildings and architecture at the time of land reclamation; the endemic cattle, cows and horses; fish for poor people in the past; the traditional uses of plants); Part V. The Maremma Regional park and its management between present and future (management and production of the pine tree woods and the maquis; tourists and visitors of the park; the management of multidisciplinary problems in the coastal park).
This small book, which is in fact a story for children, is aimed at increasing social awareness regarding seagrass meadows. It is a translation of a former version in Catalan language, adapted to the social conditions of the North-African countries through a collaboration with the University of Tunis. Fully illustrated, this book gives a comprehensive overview of seagrass ecosystems, the goods and services they provide and some ideas about their conservation. Although written for children, the book is equally intended for an adult reader. It is innovative in the sense that this kind of approach is relatively rare in the Maghreb countries. Ca. 2000 books have been printed, which will be distributed through Tunisia (and maybe other North-African countries) with the help of other project partners.
The project web site is a key instrument to inform the public worldwide on the project and to keep in touch the partners. It is continuously updated with information on: activities of the partners, methodologies of research developed during the project, results, events (programmes and photo galleries) and a complete list of publications derived from the project, including presentations in conferences, master and PhD thesis. The information is in English with sections in French, when the information concerns French speaking non-European countries. It is foreseen to add information also in other Mediterranean languages to reach a wider audience of stakeholders. The design of the page is as essential as possible to permit an easy connection and navigation throughout the different pages. There are links to the web sites of connected projects: http://www.meco.unifi.it and http://www.wadi.unifi.it that are also continuously updated. This shows the history of the research carried on by the consortium of partners. An important section of the medcore web site refers to the final international conference held in Novembre 2005, showing the contributions presented by the participants also from outside the project. This creates a link with the exterior. The exhibition "Domestic Mediterranean" showed at the end of the project to the public in Florence, and presently (July 2006) in Malta, is shown in the web site as a permanent virtual exhibition. A web site of the project has also been activated in Egypt by the CEDARE partner at the address http://medcore.cedare.int This web site contains general and specific information on the study sites and the researches carried out by the partners.
Rosetta area is one of the Egyptian regions, which has its own character. The area has great potentials for tourism activities, especial economic structure, prevailed by high level of poverty, low levels of public participation. All of these conditions affect adversely the socioeconomic conditions of the residents and threaten consequently the environmental quality. Therefore, there is an urgent need to build on a set of guidelines for sustainable development of the area. The development of the area should have long term horizon, so that any development plan should be multi-focus integrating various interests and perspectives. Also, the development plan should be based on participatory approach, according to which, all stakeholders should be incorporated in all stages of development; planning, decision making and implementation processes. Such a participatory approach could ensure that the development efforts will reflect the actual requirements of the residents and meet their needs. Also, it could ensure strong support of the residents for the development efforts and consequently the success of these efforts. Based on the above mentioned notion, a number of guidelines for the sustainable development of the area were developed. Stakeholders of the area were consulted on these guidelines. The feed back of the participants in the consultation were significant in finalizing the guidelines.
MEDCORE project involves assessment of the prevailing environmental and socioeconomic conditions in order to develop a sustainability strategy for the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. Accordingly, socioeconomic conditions represent an integrated part of such a study, which aim ultimately to attaining sustainable development. Accordingly, this manual was developed to coordinate and integrate the socioeconomic work to be conducted by various partners under the umbrella of this project. The purpose of this manual is to provide conceptual and practical guidelines on how to conduct a reliable assessment of the socioeconomic conditions, in the various study sites within MEDCORE project, in consistent format. This not to mean that such an assessment would be carried out in uniform manners at all study sites, which have different socioeconomic characteristics. Rather, this consistent format is intended for conducting comparative analysis of various study sites and consequently establishes a set of general guidelines for sustainable development in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. However, the manual by no means represents a comprehensive collection of various aspects of the topic. Rather, this manual has been prepared as guidelines to be used by Medcore project partners in conducting socioeconomic studies in their study sites. Manual contents: - Introduction - Objective of the manual - Socioeconomic assessment - Work plan.
Changes in abundance, species richness, evenness and diversity of terrestrial beach invertebrates were assessed at increasing distance from the delta of the Ombrone river along the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy. During the study it was pointed out that the composition of the arthropod population changed according to its distance from the river mouth and that the increase in diversity was related to the increase of habitat diversity. Eroded areas, close to the river delta, were generally characterised by a small number of species and of individuals per species. Human disturbance (trampling) had also been considered as an important influencing factor and this was confirmed by seasonal comparisons. The analysis of beach morphology and of the chemical and physical characteristics of the substrate had also given important indications of the parameters implicated in the phenomenon. A further step in the knowledge of how terrestrial beach arthropod communities changed in relation to their position occupied in space with respects to the mouth of a river is represented by a recent research conducted along a sandy beach ecosystems of Morocco. In this case species richness, abundance and diversity were studied on both sides of the Oued Laou river mouth and comparisons were made. Also the physical characteristics of the environment and the chemical and physical characteristics of the substrate were also assessed in order to find relationships with the biotic components of the system. The main questions addressed were: - Are the physical and chemical characteristics of the substrate the same on the stretch of coast to the left and right of a river mouth? - Does beach morphology change according to the side of the river bank? - If so are arthropod populations the same or do they change in relation to the side of the river mouth inhabited? - How is species richness, diversity and abundance influenced by the environmental conditions found on the two sides of the river? The recorded data give some interesting indications of the species distribution on the two sides of the Oued Laou river mouth. It is clear that the stations on the left side of the river mouth both supported a lower number of species and of individuals compared to the ones on the right side. This was particularly evident for the crustacean species. The analysis of the sand parameters showed that finer sand was found at on the right side of the river whereas less compact sand and higher pH values were found on the left. Trends in beach slope were different on the two sides of the river mouth: a greater slope was found farther away from the mouth on the right side and closer to the river mouth on the left side. Regression analysis showed that negative correlations were always found between species abundance and environmental parameters, such as salinity and pH, indicating their importance in regulating species distribution. Comparisons with the results obtained at the Maremma Regional Park showed substantial differences. At the Maremma beach the erosion process taking place at the river mouth had a great influence over species richness and abundance, whereas at Oued Laou being a more stable beach other environmental factors (presence/absence of a beach dune, more/less stable vegetation, low/high human impact) probably dominated the scenario. The higher alfa value found at the Maremma beach was probably in relation to the presence of a well developed and stable dune that in the case of Oued Laou was almost entirely absent or reduced as a relict presence.
A series of descriptors of seagrass health have been developped and tested. Those descriptors are based on the seagrass Posidonia oceanica and its associated ecosystem, and are useful for: (a) baseline surveys of marine coastal areas; (b) assessment of ecological status of coastal waters. On the one hand, awarenmess on seagrass ecosystems has been increasing. The central role of seagrass ecosystems as providers of a high number of good and services, aside with their generalised decline, have attracted the attention of managers and stakeholders. The list of descriptors we propose can be of great help whenever a diagnose of seagrass helath is needed. On the other hand, the high sensitivity of seagrasses to environmental disturbances make these plants of great help as bioindicators of coastal waters ecological status. Our set of descriptors can therefore also be useful in surveys and monitoring of coastal water quality.
The product is a short video, in which the general aims of MEDCORE are explained for a very general audience in a very visual language. The purpose is not to present the main scientific goals/achievements of the projects, but to give the impression of a much broad objective to bring people from around the Mediterranean together, to create and/or strength links.
Poverty can be seen as a process of exclusion from access to certain basic physical or economic, human and social assets. The interrelationship between poverty and environment is becoming undeniable, where dealing with environmental degradation in a given society necessarily requires considering poverty levels in such society. Such a interrelationship, between environment and poverty, is more apparent in fragile ecosystems such as coastal areas, where people depend largely on the environment and its natural resources in earning their living. This means that in-depth examination of socioeconomic conditions and consequently determination of the main factors underlying poverty and existing environmental conditions may assist in breaking the vicious circle between poverty and environmental degradation. This paper examines the interrelationships between environmental quality and poverty levels prevailing in Rosetta area. In order to attain such an objective, the poverty levels in the area are assessed to identify prevailing poverty levels among different groups. Thereafter, environmental issues of concern in the area are determined and their linkages with poverty levels are examined. The study showed that there was a high level of poverty in Rosetta area. Yet, no significant relationship between poverty and some social and demographic characteristics, such as educational levels, household size and age of household heads, was found to exist. Meanwhile, linkages between poverty and environmental conditions found to exist. Such linkages, it could be argued, were highly apparent when dealing with irresponsible activities, which increase the pressure on the environment and natural resources. Breaking such linkages, or the vicious circle, between poverty and environment degradation, a comprehensive approach is needed. Such an approach would require the development of a plan to deal with economic, social and environmental aspects in integrated manner.
The amphipod Talitrus saltator was selected within the MEDCORE project as one the key species, suitable for monitoring ecological changes in the supralittoral environment Both temporal and spatial genetic variation within Talitrus saltator was analyzed by our team in Rome. On the average the degree of allozyme heterozygosity detected was not very high, in agreement with the results already obtained for this species. Nevertheless the values of the observed heterozygosity (Ho) vary broadly not only among populations collected from different sites but also among samples collected along the Uccellina beach. U01 was characterized by the lowest value among the Uccellina samples, similar to the values found in KAM, KAV and ROG. It is important to highlight that during recent field surveys at U01 (May 2003) we could not find any talitrid, probably because of the strong local erosion of the coast, which in turn might have had a dramatic effect on the persistence of the local subpopulation. As a matter of fact genetic variability can be reduced as a result of bottleneck. A reduction in the effective size of a natural population is often associated with higher risk of local extinction. Different factors, i.e anthropic pressure, could have similar effects on the genetic variability of populations. In this respect, it is important to note that KAM, KAV and ROG were collected from beaches highly impacted by tourism. U92 and U04 show comparable mean level of Ho; these two values are the highest observed among T.saltator populations. Overall, the allozyme data collected for this part of the MEDCORE project are in good agreement with previous results obtained on T.saltator in our lab (De Matthaeis et al., 2000a, 2000b; Ketmaier et al., 2003, 2005a). In particular, new and previous data all suggest the presence of a stable dune belt and/or the lack of human activities on the beaches being major factors affecting the pattern of genetic variability of talitrid populations.
Stakeholders' consultation on baseline studies and developed guidelines for sustainable development of Rosetta area
A stakeholder consultation was conducted in order to verify the issues identified through the baseline studies and to allow for participation of stakeholders in drawing the guidelines for sustainable development of the area. The overall objective of the meeting was to verify the outcome of baseline studies and evaluate the developed guidelines for sustainable development of Rosetta area. For that purpose, a number of theses were identified and discussed in the consultation process including:: - Special characters of Rosetta area. - Main issues in the area and the most affected groups. - Real requirements and needs of the residents. - Main stakeholders and their roles. - Sustainable development of Rosetta area in terms of objectives and tools. Despite the variety of stakeholders groups, which include for example, farmers, fishermen, local authority officials and the residents, the university students of the area residents were identified as a target stakeholder. It is thought that such a group represents a reasonable proportion of the population. They are also highly educated with somewhat high levels of awareness of the prevailing conditions in the area as their family heads and relatives are part of the main stakeholders' groups identified before. Moreover, they have an interest in the future of the area. Therefore, a number of university students living in Rosetta area were invited to participate in a meeting in order to discuss the prospects of attaining sustainable development in Rosetta area. A number of considerations were taken into account, to ensure the success of the consultation, the mediator acted only as a facilitator among different and opposite view points and didn't gave or support any side. At the beginning the mediator assured that there is no right or wrong answer to the questions during the discussion. Also, all the statements, comment and answers given by participants discussed in details. Generally, the consultation showed that issues such as high levels of poverty prevailing in the area would strongly support the argument that attaining sustainability in this area and similar ones in the Mediterranean regions is questionable. Therefore, concerted and well-organized efforts at regional level, especially in the light of the similarities found in environmental and socioeconomic conditions need to be undertaken to provide technical and financial support at the local level to promote sustainable development. Such support has to provide institutional support to local authorities, while promoting the role of public participation and efforts of the NGOs.