Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum) has been highly valued for jewellery since ancient times. But intensive fishing, particularly in shallow waters, has transformed populations and hindered the recovery of this species along the Mediterranean coastline, where the colonies of coral at depths of less than 50 metres are now very small. Fishing and now climate change threaten the persistence of this slowing growing species which also boasts slow population dynamics.
A team of scientists has analysed the three oldest Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean – Banyuls, Carry-le-Rouet and Scandola, off the island of Corsica – to quantify the impact of human activity and ascertain how efficient MPAs are in conserving red coral, as the latter are "a vital tool" when it comes to observing the evolution of populations in the absence of fishing.
"The problem with studying a species that grows so slowly is that populations need to be monitored over long periods of time to guarantee sufficient data are obtained to estimate how populations have evolved," Cristina Linares, the author of the article and a researcher from the Department of Ecology at the University of Barcelona told SINC.
The study, which was published recently in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, shows that MPAs are "a slow but effective tool for conserving Mediterranean red coral populations," Joaquim Garrabou, co-author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC) declared.
According to the scientists, Mediterranean red coral cannot be considered an endangered species. This opinion is justified by the extensive distribution of dense populations all over the Mediterranean Basin and the fact that some colonies with basal diameters of less than two millimetres are now sexually fertile.
Three Decades of Protection
The researchers chose these three Marine Protected Areas because they are 30 years old. They forecast the structure of red coral populations when they were created, and three decades later, they have returned to repeat the process.
According to Linares, "these MPAs are home to extraordinarily large colonies, at depths of less than 50 metres and also deep-dwelling populations, in comparison to the populations studied previously". This confirms that MPAs are effective as measures to conserve this species, "providing, as is the case in these three MPAs, that they are well managed and that constant surveillance guarantees the protection of this species," the authors state.
"But the forecast for the future of populations reveals that 30 years of protection are not enough to allow colonies to reach the size of those observed in the 1960s (with diameters of around 45 mm)", Garrabou underlines.
Linares warns that if the colonies continue to diminish, the resilience of this species (its ability to absorb disturbances without suffering changes) will be affected. "The lack of large colonies has significant implications for future of populations, because it is these colonies that contribute to reproduction and, therefore, the persistence of these populations," the researcher says.
SINC | EurekAlert!
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering