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.


In the framework of the Med Project FishMPABlue 2 Ecomers lab, together with Conisma (Italy), started in June a sampling campaign covering 11 Mediterranean MPAs: Cap Roux, Cote Bleue, Bonifacio (France), Torre Guaceto, Egadi, Portofino (Italy), Es Freus, Cabo de Palos (Spain), Telascica (Croatia) and Strunjan (Slovenia).

During the campaign, lasting 3 months, researchers from the two institutions carried out underwater visual census, diver operated videos (DOV), baited underwater videos (BUV) and squid-pop to investigate the ecological effectiveness of the 11 MPAs, by comparing fish density, biomass and predation intensity between MPAs and control sites.


In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171).  Many countries have celebrated World Oceans Day following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients and regulate climate. They are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income and serve as the backbone of international trade.

Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas.

Peace and security are also critical to the full enjoyment of the benefits that can be derived from the oceans and for their sustainable development. As has been remarked by the Secretary-General: “There will be no development without security and no security without development.” To know more

This year’s theme for the Day is “Our oceans, our future” and is connected to the Ocean Conference taking place from 5 to 9 June at United Nations headquarters in New York, where ECOMERS is represented as a part of the French delegation.

To know more about the Ocean Conference

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