The doctoral thesis of E. Infant studies the interactions between waves and marine plants in the Mediterranean

  • The Wave hydrodynamic effects on marine macrophytes study, held at the IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB) and defended in the UIB, provides first quantitative data on the effects of ocean waves on benthic macrophytes and highlights the role of Posidonia oceanica in coastal protection against waves of storms

Palma. July 2012. The dissertation of Eduardo Infantes Oanes, defended at the Universitat de les Illes Balears, studies the interactions between waves and marine benthic macrophytes or marine plants. The thesis developed in the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB), has been directed by Dr. Jorge Terrados and Alejandro Orfila. Research hydrodynamic effects related to the spatial distribution of Posidonia oceanica, the survival of young plants of P. oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa, and colonization of the substrate by the invasive seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa.


The study also evaluated the effect of a Posidonia oceanica meadow in the wave propagation in natural conditions. Thus, the thesis provides quantitative data on the effects of waves on macrophytes and the effect of these on the wave attenuation. In order to obtain a deeper understanding of these processes, the research has been done by combining data from different sources such as numerical models, aerial photographs, field experiments and measurements in the test channel.


The doctoral thesis of a multidisciplinary approach that combines aspects of marine ecology to fluid dynamics, and uses a wide range of mathematical tools to apply the physical principles to understand and predict the behavior of Mediterranean marine macrophytes. Despite the importance of light and temperature on the spatial distribution of marine macrophytes, we must also highlight the role of ocean currents and waves. Because they live in the water, the plants are exposed to the effects of hydrodynamics from germinating until they are adults. Eduardo Infantes has studied these effects from four different studies.


In the first study, conducted on Cala Millor beach, has developed a methodology to quantify the wave energy that determines the upper limit of the Posidonia oceanica. This study shows the importance of interdisciplinarity in ecological modeling and, specifically, the need for hydrodynamic studies in the investigation of the distribution of algae in shallow water. Also highlights the use of predictive models must be used to assess the effects of activities such as the construction of ports, of artificial reefs, the regeneration of the sand of a beach or drainage in benthic ecosystems.


Effects of wave action on Posidonia oceanica

The second study examines the role of hydrodynamics in establishing seedlings or young plants of two Mediterranean species Posidonia oceanica and how are Cymodocea nodosa. The results of this research has been done on channel combining experiments and field work in the area of ??Cap and Cala Blava Enderrocat, show that Posidonia oceanica seedlings are more vulnerable to being uprooted sediment during storms that seedlings Cymodocea nodosa by the impact of hydrodynamic resistance and erosion. The findings of this study highlight the need to assess wave conditions in an area before executing a plan to restore seagrass.

The third study has helped to understand the process of invasion of two plantes Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa, from predicting which substrates may be more susceptible to being invaded. Thus, research has established that the bound substrates, like rocks and rhizome of Posidonia oceanica dead, are more favorable to the colonization of invasive macroalgae Caulerpa species that unconsolidated substrates like sand. Thus, the researcher notes that these invasive species colonize degraded areas of Posidonia oceanica, but not colonize prairie areas that are in an optimal state of conservation, it is recommended to protect and conserve grasslands P. oceanica, to prevent them from becoming potential areas of colonization of invasive species.

The fourth study investigated the effect of Posidonia oceanica on the propagation of ocean waves. Under this research done on the Cala Millor beach has been quantified for the first time the attenuation of waves that produces a Posidonia oceanica meadow at sea with the reduction of sea current speed and height waves. Thus, it becomes clear the role of the prairies of this species endemic to the Mediterranean in coastal protection during storms.

Source: Servei de Comunicació de la UIB.
You can read the full report in the attached document and also this link

Citation: Pictures by E. Infantes. For more pictures click here

Más información en reportaje de Tesis adjunto.