Project details

Name:Praderas de Cymodocea nodosa del PN Archipíelago de Cabrera: el papel de la diversidad genética en el funcionamiento del ecosistema y sus impicaciones para la conservación
Abstract:Genetic variation is required for species to adapt to their environment and thus is essential for population persistence as the environment changes. In addition, genetic variation can also have significant immediate ecological consequences at the population, community, and ecosystem levels.  In foundation species, which exert strong influence on ecosystems through their structural and functional attributes, variation among genotypes may be an important source of ecological variation analogous to species diversity in other systems. Seagrass meadows are critical coastal ecosystems that harbor high diversity of species and provide key ecosystem services to humans (e.g. water quality, coastline protection, fisheries, etc). As a result of numerous anthropogenic activities (e.g. pollution, eutrophication) seagrass beds are declining worldwide and are now focus of numerous protection activities. Climate change and invasive species are further appearing as other important concerns for seagrass conservation. Seagrass meadows are iconic ecosystems of the Cabrera Archipelago National Park (PNMTAC). Studies with the widespread seagrass Zostera marina and some terrestrial clonal plants have shown positive relationships between genotype variations and ecological properties of the system, including productivity, species diversity hosted, as well as resilience to disturbances. In this project, we aim to conduct the first exploration of the existence of such relationships in one of the two main seagrass species of the Mediterranean Sea (Cymodocea nodosa), which is a key yet largely understudied component of PNMTAC. Understanding how genetic variations contribute to seagrass ecosystem function and response to disturbance is critical to adequately manage these ecosystems, both from the perspective of their basic ecological properties but also in view of their conservation in front of human threats, such as climate change or invasive species.

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