A new study advances in the understanding of Posidonia for its conservation and restoration.

22/10/2023

• The research applies a new, more efficient approach through mathematical simulation models and network analysis.

 

Understanding better how the fruits and seeds of Posidonia oceanica are dispersed in the sea and how the species is interconnected in different areas of the ocean could be crucial in defining conservation and restoration areas for the species. This is the starting point of a study carried out by researchers from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB), the Coastal Observation and Prediction System of the Balearic Islands (ICTS SOCIB), and Aarhus University in Denmark.

Through mathematical simulation models and network analysis, the research team proposes a more efficient approach that allows a better understanding of how Posidonia spreads and connects across different coastal sectors in the Balearic archipelago. This approach also enables the identification of key areas for the conservation and restoration of Posidonia meadows, especially in the Balearic archipelago.

The study identifies areas where it is likely to collect large quantities of Posidonia fruits, areas where natural recruitment can aid in the recovery of marine meadows, zones requiring intervention to facilitate recolonization, and places that should be prioritized in case of damage to marine meadows, to maintain connectivity.

This knowledge can guide regional conservation authorities to make informed decisions to protect and restore these underwater meadows effectively. This approach is crucial to ensuring the sustainability of marine ecosystems, especially for community interest habitats like Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea.
 

 

Photo: Summary Figure Author: Andrés Ospina.

 

Scientific methods for caring for oceans and marine life.

 

The research team collected information for over a decade along the coasts and underwater. During this period, advancements in both satellite oceanic observations and in situ data combined with high-resolution numerical models significantly improved the representation of marine currents. Integrating all this knowledge, the main research that led to the results published in the Biological Conservation journal was conducted in a year of work, focusing on simulating the dispersion processes of Posidonia fruits and seeds on a supercomputer, as well as analyzing the connection networks between different marine meadows.

By integrating high-resolution hydrodynamic and biological models, the scientific team successfully simulated how the fruits and seeds of these species move in the sea due to currents and water movement. This allowed them to predict where these seeds could end up and how they move in the ocean.

Additionally, a special type of mathematics, topology, was used to understand how different locations on the Balearic coasts are interconnected, helping discover the most crucial areas and how to protect them.

The combination of these two methods contributes to a better understanding of how marine plants disperse and how to more effectively care for the ocean and its marine life.

Photo: Posidonia oceanica fruits arriving at the beach Author: Jorge Terrados

 

A new horizon for Posidonia conservation.

 

Posidonia oceanica meadows are crucial for biodiversity, species distribution, and marine ecosystem recovery.

Despite existing protective policies, there has been a continuous decline in these marine pastures, primarily due to the impact of human activities.

In the Balearic Islands, these pressures intensify due to tourism, underscoring the urgent need to prioritize areas for the protection and restoration of Posidonia meadows.

This research opens significant horizons in the conservation and management of marine ecosystems in the Balearic Islands and beyond. The results enable better conservation and restoration of marine meadows, more sustainable tourism management, and the application of these methods in other regions to protect marine ecosystems worldwide.

International collaboration and scientific research remain fundamental to ensuring the survival of these underwater meadows and the overall health of marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean.

 

Bibliographic Reference of the Article:


Ane Pastor, Ignacio A. Català, Jorge Terrados, Baptiste Mourre, and Andrés Ospina-Alvarez. "Connectivity-Based Approach to Guide Conservation and Restoration of Seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the NW Mediterranean." Biological Conservation 285 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110248

 

Original Article: Carolina Morán - CSIC Balears Communication