Dr Sylvaine Giakoumi (ECOMERS, CNRS, Universtity of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France), Dr Silvia Carvalho (Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, Portugal), and Dr Virgilio Hermoso (Centre Tecnológic Forestal de Catalunya, Spain) will teach an introductory Marxan course with emphasis on connectivity within the framework of the EU COST project MarCons (http://www.marcons-cost.eu/). The 3-day training course will take place at the University of the Aegean in beautiful Lesvos Island, Greece between the 7th and 9th May 2018.

Marxan mytillini 2018 02

This three-day training school aims to teach participants how to apply the principles of systematic conservation planning using software Marxan. Marxan is the most widely used decision support tool for conservation planning globally. Developed by Ian Ball and Hugh Possingham from the University of Queensland, Australia, Marxan supports spatial prioritization by producing transparent and repeatable results. It is commonly used for the design of networks of protected areas in the marine, terrestrial, and freshwater environments.

If you are interested in the training course please learn more at http://www.marcons-cost.eu/activities/training-schools/item/165-training-school-introduction-to-marxan-with-emphasis-on-connectivity-mytilene-greece-07-09-may-2018

Read more: Marxan: an introductory course

Landscape ecology is a multidisciplinary field that combines the spatial approach of geography with functional ecology. Concerning marine environment, a submerged landscape, called seascape, is defined as a spatially heterogeneous area of coastal environment. Measurement of spatial patterns plays a central role in monitoring environmental change and for studying the multi-scale processes that drive organism distributions and biodiversity.

In 2011, ECOMERS co-organized with the French Agency for the Marine Protected Areas an international workshop on the seascape. The contributions have been published in a Springer volume (Underwater seascapes - From geographical to ecological Perspectives. 2014. Musard O., Le Dû-Blayo L., Francour P., Beurier J.P., Feunteun E., Talassinos L. (eds). Springer Science & Business Media). In collaboration with CREOCEAN company, ECOMERS published in this book a method to assess the seascape integrity (Thorin S., Bodilis P., Schvartz T., Durtieux E., Francour P. 2014. Seascape integrity assessment: a proposed index for the Mediterranean coast: 263-275). The aim of this paper was to propose a relevant seascape index focussing on Mediterranean littoral areas, moreover rocky habitat that constitutes one of the most important and characteristic habitats of the north-western Mediterranean coastal areas. The methodology proposed to score marine sites addresses three factors: biological, geomorphologic (i.e. 3D complexity) and anthropogenic. The goal was to build a functional and relevant tool that could eventually be used for a large scale geographical analysis of submarine landscapes along the north-western Mediterranean coast. The proposed index can qualitatively assess the value of the seascape within a site. Statistical tests showed that the proposed index is an accurate and relevant proxy of the seascape complexity value. The seascape integrity index we developed can then be a new tool that could complement other existing biological indices.Paysage

Recently, in collaboration with NaturDive, an association of non professional Scuba divers interested in marine ecology, Patrice Francour (ECOMERS) proposed a training, including lecture and scuba diving, to involve non professional divers in seascape monitoring along the Riviera coast. The aim of this citizen science initiative is (1) to gather data on seascape integrity of most of the diving spots along the coast, (2) to provide some managers (marine protected areas, Natura 2000 areas, etc.) with quantitative data, scientifically validated, and (3) to improve Scuba divers awareness on the ecological importance of seascape.

This seascape initiative is included in the ECOCIMED, a program of citizen science, managed by ECOMERS and AMPN (Association Monégasque pour la Protection de la Nature; manager of the MPAs in Monaco). Contributions to ECOCIMED are available of the ECOCIMED Facebook page.

Read more: Seascape and citizen science: an ECOCIMED contribution

Four PhDs of the ECOMERS laboratory presented their work on Thursday 11 of January 2018. You will find hereafter a summary and a PDF of their presentation.

Alexandre Schickele, co-directed by Virginie Raybaud & Patrice Francour
Title: Climate induced changes in Mediterranean fish communities:
A modelling approach
Abstract: Last decades, climate driven changes, including sea surface temperature increase in the Mediterranean Sea, have modified the native species’ abiotic environment, inducing northwards shifts in their distribution areas. During the same time, warm-water lessepsian migrants have settled along the south-eastern Mediterranean coast leading to competition with endemic species. The current distribution of several species including most invasive, most harvested and keystone species will be assessed using Ecological Niche Models (ENM). These models are calibrated with a given species spatial occurrence data and the associated environmental variables. Coupled with several global ocean circulation models and IPCC scenarios, we will be able to predict Mediterranean species distribution under climate change for the next decades. Using results of ENMs as input, trophic models will be calibrated on specific areas of the Mediterranean Sea to assess the complexity of climate induced changes on several type of ecosystem, including MPAs and cold-water ecoregions. Link to presentation

Elena Desidera, co-directed by Paolo Guidetti & Carlotta Mazzoldi
Title: Evaluating the effects of protection measures
on the reproductive biology of the Dusky Grouper, Epinephelus marginatus
Abstract: The Dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus, is an ecologically and economically valuable fish, highly vulnerable to overfishing due to slow growth rates, late sexual maturity, protogynous hermaphroditism and reproduction via spawning aggregations. Fishing caused dramatic declines in density and size of this fish in many areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Nowadays, this species is abundant only in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), where its spawning aggregations are mostly documented. This multi-disciplinary project aims at evaluating the effect of reserve protection on Dusky groupers’ spawning aggregations in Tavolara–Punta Coda Cavallo MPA (Sardinia, Italy), by collecting data about i) historical local fishery and knowledge of the species, ii) Dusky grouper populations demography and iii) reproductive activity, and iv) spawning-related sound production patterns (to listen sounds produced by groupers, click here).The project will have major management and socio-economic implications for supporting MPAs effectiveness in protecting this valuable endangered species during a vulnerable phase of its life cycle. Link to presentation

Elisabeth Riera, co-directed by Patrice Francour & Cédric Hubas
Title: Optimization of a new generation of artificial reef:
a pilot study in Mediterranean Sea.
Abstract: Artificial reefs (ARs) have been defined as "submerged structures placed on the seabed deliberately, to mimic some of the characteristics of natural reefs”. Most of the artificial reef immersed in the Mediterranean Sea are made with concrete that presents potential pollution and shows a poor complexity compared to natural rocky habitats. Our study aims to optimize a new generation artificial reefs designed by 3D print, both for their structural potential and for the ecological suitability of the materials used to design them. To assess the quality of any kind of substrate used for ARs, we monitor the first stage of colonization (biofilm and macrofouling), a key element in the colonization of ARs and the development of its trophic network. Secondly, to assess the structure of ARs, a quantitative complexity index of marine habitats is in development. This will allow testing a potential correlation between these indexes and the diversity and abundance of species associated with complexity of habitats. This will help in the future to choose the best design to attract species of interest. Link to presentation

Samer Fatfat, co directed by Paolo Guidetti & Jalal Halawani
Title : Impact of Fishing on the Ichthyofauna in the North Lebanese coast
Abstract: An important number of Lessepsian fishes colonize the Lebanese coast, and become a part of the local fish market. Fishing in Lebanon is not subject to the application of laws, or regulations, which are applied to the minimum. The Lebanese coast is considered to be overfishing. The study is made in north Lebanon and focus on fishing techniques, fishing vessels, target species and distribution of fisheries. Results of species caught will be divided into: primary target, secondary target, accessory target, bait target, and new primary target. Then a classification of fishing techniques is presented based on their impact on fishes listed on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Finally, the quantity of captured species will be collected for each fishing technique. Several methods are used to collect the data: direct Interviews with fishermen, survey, accompany fishermen in different fishing techniques, and weekly data collection from 117 fishermen representing a percentage of fishing techniques and representative fishermen number in north Lebanon. Link to presentation

Read more: ECOMERS PhD Day - 2018

Six artificial reefs printed with a giant 3D-printer using natural products (sand of Dolomite and volcanic ash) have been immersed on November 02 in the Larvotto marine protected area in Monaco. This is a first in the Mediterranean and worldwide by the size of printed reefs ( 2,500 kilos each). This innovative project is supported by the Boskalis Company and the ECOMERS laboratory with the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and in partnership with the Association Monégasque pour la Protection de la Nature (Manager of Marine Protected Areas of Monaco).

Slide 1 3D
The use of a 3D printer allow to mimic the complexity of the natural environment and can therefore facilitate the restoration of ecosystems by creating suitable habitats for fish and macroinvertebrates.
Significant studies have been carried out by Boskalis to design a material that meets several requirements: water resistance, strength, compatibility with 3D printing technology and above all a lack of harmful effect on the environment.
In parallel, research programs were launched in our laboratory by Patrice Francour and Elisabeth Riera to select the most favourable substrates for subsequent colonization by fauna and flora or to develop a method for accurately measuring the structural complexity of artificial reefs.
Long-term monitoring of the reefs immersed in the Larvotto Marine Protected Area will be rapidly implemented (ECOMERS and AMPN) to follow the colonization of the reefs. In the heart of the Larvotto Marine Protected Area, a natural laboratory for scientists, this program will also promote the development of innovative methods of monitoring. The experience gained can thus be put at the service of marine protected area managers who would like to optimize the restoration of degraded land by human activities.

Slide 03 3D

Read more: Immersion of 3D artificial reefs in Monaco

Taking advantage of the sampling campaign in Croatia, conducted within the project FishMPABlue 2, Ecomers researchers participated to a meeting with local small scale fishermen. The more appropriate governance tools to enhance management of small scale fisheries in the MPAs have been discussed together. In collaboration with international experts (Nathan Bennett, David Gill, Federico Niccolini), Ecomers developed a questionnaire in order to investigate the human dimension of small scale fisheries in the 11 Mediterranean MPAs included in the project.