Special Issue "Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Oceans and Coastal Zones".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 10073

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Sebastiano Calvo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Hearth and Sea Sciences, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Edificio 16 - 90128 Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Interests: aquatic ecology and biology; mapping; monitoring; conservation and restoration of seagrasses
Prof. Dr. Agostino Tomasello
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Hearth and Sea Sciences, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Edificio 16 - 90128 Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Interests: ecology; biology; mapping; monitoring; restoration of seagrasses

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Mediterranean Basin is considered one of the world most important hot spot for marine biodiversity. In the last century climate change combined with local anthropogenic stressors led to mortalities and dramatic loss of indigenous essential habitat forming species and associated biodiversity. Considering the relatively long time resilience of many of these species, active restoration appeared as one of the key actions to counteract biodiversity losses. In recent years there has been an upsurge in researches aimed at restoring degraded marine environments which has led to a proliferation of strategies and methodologies proposals attempted to enhance the effectiveness of restoration plans. However, the experiences carried out until now showed a very high variability of outcomes, depending on the species, the methodologies employed and the different environmental conditions encountered, making the issue of marine restoration still rather debated and far from the definition of a fully shared and standardized approach. Additional efforts are clear need to fill this gap, as recently recommended  by United Nations (UN) General Assembly that declared 2021–2030 the "UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration", and soon after by the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions with “EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030” COM(2020) 380 final.

This special issue aims to collect recent experiences dealing with restoration of the most important habitats of Mediterranean Sea. Review or research papers concerning restoration performance (success and failures), technologies employed, development of mapping and monitoring protocols and advances in biological, ecological and socio-economic knowledge applied to restoration are welcome.


Prof. Dr. Sebastiano Calvo
Prof. Dr. Agostino Tomasello
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Transplantation
  • Monitoring
  • Seabed mapping
  • Ecological restoration,
  • Evaluation
  • Restoration planning
  • Habitat recovery
  • Marine coastal habitats
  • Habitat formers

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Assessing Seagrass Restoration Actions through a Micro-Bathymetry Survey Approach (Italy, Mediterranean Sea)
Water 2022, 14(8), 1285; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14081285 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 655
Abstract
Underwater photogrammetry provides a means of generating high-resolution products such as dense point clouds, 3D models, and orthomosaics with centimetric scale resolutions. Underwater photogrammetric models can be used to monitor the growth and expansion of benthic communities, including the assessment of the conservation [...] Read more.
Underwater photogrammetry provides a means of generating high-resolution products such as dense point clouds, 3D models, and orthomosaics with centimetric scale resolutions. Underwater photogrammetric models can be used to monitor the growth and expansion of benthic communities, including the assessment of the conservation status of seagrass beds and their change over time (time lapse micro-bathymetry) with OBIA classifications (Object-Based Image Analysis). However, one of the most complex aspects of underwater photogrammetry is the accuracy of the 3D models for both the horizontal and vertical components used to estimate the surfaces and volumes of biomass. In this study, a photogrammetry-based micro-bathymetry approach was applied to monitor Posidonia oceanica restoration actions. A procedure for rectifying both the horizontal and vertical elevation data was developed using soundings from high-resolution multibeam bathymetry. Furthermore, a 3D trilateration technique was also tested to collect Ground Control Points (GCPs) together with reference scale bars, both used to estimate the accuracy of the models and orthomosaics. The root mean square error (RMSE) value obtained for the horizontal planimetric measurements was 0.05 m, while the RMSE value for the depth was 0.11 m. Underwater photogrammetry, if properly applied, can provide very high-resolution and accurate models for monitoring seagrass restoration actions for ecological recovery and can be useful for other research purposes in geological and environmental monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Testing Transplantation Techniques for the Red Coral Corallium rubrum
Water 2022, 14(7), 1071; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071071 - 28 Mar 2022
Viewed by 562
Abstract
Corallium rubrum has been exploited by humankind for centuries. The long-term exploitation dynamics of this species make it even more important today to increase protection and restoration efforts as it provides a significant range of ecosystem services. This becomes even more important in [...] Read more.
Corallium rubrum has been exploited by humankind for centuries. The long-term exploitation dynamics of this species make it even more important today to increase protection and restoration efforts as it provides a significant range of ecosystem services. This becomes even more important in areas where natural recovery is hindered or unlikely. So far, only very few experiments have been carried out in the past, investigating suitable techniques for the successful transplantation of this species. For this reason, a review was conducted in order to synthesize previous results and identify the most promising methodologies. Additionally, six different transplantation techniques were tested and discussed in the context of the review. Five techniques used fragments for transplantation, while one used newly settled larvae on PVC-tiles. Shallow C. rubrum colonies often grow upside down under crevices and rims as well as in caves, making the transplantation of fragments comparatively challenging. Here, C. rubrum was transplanted upside down under crevices using a PVC-grid in combination with epoxy putty to hold fragments in place, and the results indicated the potential benefits of this technique. In a novel approach, shallow colonies, and larvae on settling plates were also transferred to deeper areas, suggesting that mesophotic populations can be restored to reconstruct pre-exploitation conditions. Attaching the colonies to the roof of crevices provided a level of survivorship consistent with conventional erect transplantations of colonies on rock bottom but had the advantage of being more removed from sedimentation and anthropogenic disturbance. Future work must develop permanent grid-mounting methods for use in the crevices before this approach can be further explored for large-scale restoration efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Performance Assessment of Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile Restoration Experiment on Dead matte Twelve Years after Planting—Structural and Functional Meadow Features
Water 2021, 13(5), 724; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050724 - 07 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1236
Abstract
Following the restoration of natural conditions by reducing human pressures, reforestation is currently considered a possible option to accelerate the recovery of seagrass habitats. Long-term monitoring programs theoretically represent an ideal solution to assess whether a reforestation plan has produced the desired results. [...] Read more.
Following the restoration of natural conditions by reducing human pressures, reforestation is currently considered a possible option to accelerate the recovery of seagrass habitats. Long-term monitoring programs theoretically represent an ideal solution to assess whether a reforestation plan has produced the desired results. Here, we report on the performance of a 20 m2 patch of Posidonia oceanica transplanted on dead matte twelve years after transplantation in the Gulf of Palermo, northwestern Sicily. Photo mosaic performed in the area allowed us to detect 23 transplanted patches of both regular and irregular shape, ranging from 0.1 to 2.7 m2 and an overall surface close to 19 m2. Meadow density was 331.6 ± 17.7 shoot m−2 (currently five times higher than the initial value of 66 shoots m−2), and it did not show statistical differences from a close by natural meadow (331.2 ± 14.9). Total primary production, estimated by lepidochronology, varied from 333.0 to 332.7 g dw m2/year, at the transplanted and natural stand, respectively. These results suggest that complete restoration of P. oceanica on dead matte is possible in a relatively short time (a decade), thus representing a good starting point for upscaling the recovery of the degraded meadows in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Environmental Engineering Techniques to Restore Degraded Posidonia oceanica Meadows
Water 2021, 13(5), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050661 - 28 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1407
Abstract
Seagrass planting techniques have shown to be an effective tool for restoring degraded meadows and ecosystem function. In the Mediterranean Sea, most restoration efforts have been addressed to the endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica, but cost-benefit analyses have shown unpromising results. This study [...] Read more.
Seagrass planting techniques have shown to be an effective tool for restoring degraded meadows and ecosystem function. In the Mediterranean Sea, most restoration efforts have been addressed to the endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica, but cost-benefit analyses have shown unpromising results. This study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of environmental engineering techniques generally employed in terrestrial systems to restore the P. oceanica meadows: two different restoration efforts were considered, either exploring non-degradable mats or, for the first time, degradable mats. Both of them provided encouraging results, as the loss of transplanting plots was null or very low and the survival of cuttings stabilized to about 50%. Data collected are to be considered positive as the survived cuttings are enough to allow the future spread of the patches. The utilized techniques provided a cost-effective restoration tool likely affordable for large-scale projects, as the methods allowed to set up a wide bottom surface to restore in a relatively short time without any particular expensive device. Moreover, the mats, comparing with other anchoring methods, enhanced the colonization of other organisms such as macroalgae and sessile invertebrates, contributing to generate a natural habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Review

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Review
Restoration of Marine Sponges—What Can We Learn from over a Century of Experimental Cultivation?
Water 2022, 14(7), 1055; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071055 - 28 Mar 2022
Viewed by 551
Abstract
Marine sponges are the driver of many critical biological processes throughout various ecosystems. But anthropogenic and environmental pressures are rapidly compromising the diversity and abundance of Porifera worldwide. In our study, we reviewed the main experiences made on their cultivation to provide a [...] Read more.
Marine sponges are the driver of many critical biological processes throughout various ecosystems. But anthropogenic and environmental pressures are rapidly compromising the diversity and abundance of Porifera worldwide. In our study, we reviewed the main experiences made on their cultivation to provide a roadmap of the best methodologies that could be applied to restore coastal sponge populations. We synthesized the results of experimental trials between 1950 and today to facilitate information on promising methods and materials. We detected a strong geographical imbalance between different ecoregions, as well as a shift of scientific effort from the investigation of “bath sponge” mariculture towards the rearing of bioactive compounds from sponges. Although sponge cultivation is arguably highly species-dependent, we further found that skeletal consistency in combination with taxonomy may be used to decide on appropriate techniques for future restoration initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Review
Marine Seagrasses Transplantation in Confined and Coastal Adriatic Environments: Methods and Results
Water 2021, 13(16), 2289; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162289 - 21 Aug 2021
Viewed by 782
Abstract
The anthropogenic pressures of the twentieth century have seriously endangered the Mediterranean coastal zone; as a consequence, marine seagrass habitats have strongly retreated, mostly those of Posidonia oceanica. For this reason, over time, restoration programs have been put in place through transplantation [...] Read more.
The anthropogenic pressures of the twentieth century have seriously endangered the Mediterranean coastal zone; as a consequence, marine seagrass habitats have strongly retreated, mostly those of Posidonia oceanica. For this reason, over time, restoration programs have been put in place through transplantation activities, with different success. These actions have also been conducted with other Mediterranean marine seagrasses. The results of numerous transplanting operations conducted in the Northern Adriatic Sea and lagoons with Cymodocea nodosa, Zostera marina and Z. noltei and in the Central and Southern Adriatic Sea with P. oceanica (only within the project Interreg SASPAS), are herein presented and compared, taking also into account the presence of extensive meadows of C. nodosa, Z. marina and Z. noltei, along the North Adriatic coasts and lagoons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Review
Restoration of Seagrass Meadows in the Mediterranean Sea: A Critical Review of Effectiveness and Ethical Issues
Water 2021, 13(8), 1034; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081034 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1777
Abstract
Some species of seagrasses (e.g., Zostera marina and Posidonia oceanica) have declined in the Mediterranean, at least locally. Others are progressing, helped by sea warming, such as Cymodocea nodosa and the non-native Halophila stipulacea. The decline of one seagrass can favor [...] Read more.
Some species of seagrasses (e.g., Zostera marina and Posidonia oceanica) have declined in the Mediterranean, at least locally. Others are progressing, helped by sea warming, such as Cymodocea nodosa and the non-native Halophila stipulacea. The decline of one seagrass can favor another seagrass. All in all, the decline of seagrasses could be less extensive and less general than claimed by some authors. Natural recolonization (cuttings and seedlings) has been more rapid and more widespread than was thought in the 20th century; however, it is sometimes insufficient, which justifies transplanting operations. Many techniques have been proposed to restore Mediterranean seagrass meadows. However, setting aside the short-term failure or half-success of experimental operations, long-term monitoring has usually been lacking, suggesting that possible failures were considered not worthy of a scientific paper. Many transplanting operations (e.g., P. oceanica) have been carried out at sites where the species had never previously been present. Replacing the natural ecosystem (e.g., sandy bottoms, sublittoral reefs) with P. oceanica is obviously inappropriate in most cases. This presupposes ignorance of the fact that the diversity of ecosystems is one of the bases of the biodiversity concept. In order to prevent the possibility of seagrass transplanting from being misused as a pretext for further destruction, a guide for the proper conduct of transplanting is proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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Review
The Genetic Component of Seagrass Restoration: What We Know and the Way Forwards
Water 2021, 13(6), 829; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060829 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1990
Abstract
Seagrasses are marine flowering plants providing key ecological services and functions in coasts and estuaries across the globe. Increased environmental changes fueled by human activities are affecting their existence, compromising natural habitats and ecosystems’ biodiversity and functioning. In this context, restoration of disturbed [...] Read more.
Seagrasses are marine flowering plants providing key ecological services and functions in coasts and estuaries across the globe. Increased environmental changes fueled by human activities are affecting their existence, compromising natural habitats and ecosystems’ biodiversity and functioning. In this context, restoration of disturbed seagrass environments has become a worldwide priority to reverse ecosystem degradation and to recover ecosystem functionality and associated services. Despite the proven importance of genetic research to perform successful restoration projects, this aspect has often been overlooked in seagrass restoration. Here, we aimed to provide a comprehensive perspective of genetic aspects related to seagrass restoration. To this end, we first reviewed the importance of studying the genetic diversity and population structure of target seagrass populations; then, we discussed the pros and cons of different approaches used to restore and/or reinforce degraded populations. In general, the collection of genetic information and the development of connectivity maps are critical steps for any seagrass restoration activity. Traditionally, the selection of donor population preferred the use of local gene pools, thought to be the best adapted to current conditions. However, in the face of rapid ocean changes, alternative approaches such as the use of climate-adjusted or admixture genotypes might provide more sustainable options to secure the survival of restored meadows. Also, we discussed different transplantation strategies applied in seagrasses and emphasized the importance of long-term seagrass monitoring in restoration. The newly developed information on epigenetics as well as the application of assisted evolution strategies were also explored. Finally, a view of legal and ethical issues related to national and international restoration management is included, highlighting improvements and potential new directions to integrate with the genetic assessment. We concluded that a good restoration effort should incorporate: (1) a good understanding of the genetic structure of both donors and populations being restored; (2) the analysis of local environmental conditions and disturbances that affect the site to be restored; (3) the analysis of local adaptation constraints influencing the performances of donor populations and native plants; (4) the integration of distribution/connectivity maps with genetic information and environmental factors relative to the target seagrass populations; (5) the planning of long-term monitoring programs to assess the performance of the restored populations. The inclusion of epigenetic knowledge and the development of assisted evolution programs are strongly hoped for the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restore Degraded Marine Coastal Areas in the Mediterranean Sea)
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