The Mediterranean Region Biological Diversity in Space and Time

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Here an overview of the situation of biodiversity data and information in the Mediterranean region. A platform for sharing knowledge and valuable GIS data on biodiversity conservation in the Mediterranean region. It tackles key challenges, including increasing the visibility of conservation data, making them shareable, and turning them into tangible conservation actions. The platform provides a combination of authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content based on publications and reports edited by IUCN-Med in collaboration with other key stakeholders in the Mediterranean region.

To make the platform a dynamic collaboration space, it is open to other partners interested in sharing GIS information through story maps on biodiversity conservation in the Mediterranean. The most innovative aspect of this platform is that it makes it possible both to download these geo-referenced maps and to display them on other geoportals. Spatio-temporal dynamics of woody species as a response to climate and land-use changes.

Environmental changes always occurred in the Mediterranean basin but they are accelerating as a result of the combination of millennia land use practices and global change, especially climate warming. They will have profound consequences on species and communities. Population dynamics as well as upheavals of human societies have traditionally been a major driver of changes in the Mediterranean Basin. But the situation is becoming especially challenging because of the accelerated rate of urbanisation, mostly in coastal areas.

Due to their high exposure to human activities and sensitivity to climatic conditions, Mediterranean ecosystems appear to be especially susceptible to the impacts of global change. Biological diversity is threatened by invasive alien species, which homogenizing effects on communities. Invading plants are not a real threat in most habitats, but there is currently a trend of alien plant species spreading rapidly in various ecosystems, especially along the coast.

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Predictions on climate change in the Mediterranean Basin lead to a series of expectations, which could make the Basin more severely hit by climate warming than other parts of the Palaearctic. Climate warming has already many measurable effects on populations and communities, including shifts in the distribution of species and changes in life history traits of many species.

Genetic diversity of woody species, as background of evolutionary processes; its role for adaptation. Organisms may respond in a variety of ways to global change, especially global warming. Several examples and simulation models show that tree species and assemblages of tree species do move as the thermal envelope and habitats to which they are adapted shift in latitude. Evidence that a plastic response to habitat change does occur is still scanty. Evolutionary adaptation to new selection regimes is expected in the future. However since the length of generation times of tree species is much longer that that of organisms with shorter generation times such as herbaceous plants or most animals, one may wonder whether most tree species will be able to adapt to new environmental conditions in context of rapid climate change.

Examples will be provided showing that species for which data are available exhibit a large amount of genetic diversity. One of them is that of two vicariant pine species Pinus halepensis from the western part of the basin and Pinus brutia from the eastern part. These two closely related species have a fairly high genetic diversity and, globally the difference among them is clear. The within species genetic diversity between populations is even greater than the diversity among species:.

Theory predicts that a cycle of genetic diversity results from feedbacks between fitness-related traits, demography and the genetic structure of populations. Local populations are assumed to be tightly adapted to their local environment which includes climatic and edaphic factors as well as biotic interactions. Actually, the current demographic structure of a population of trees is a component of the local environment so that demo-genetic models are already study models of responses to environmental change.

Human action may have consequences on the dynamics of basic processes of genetic differentiation.


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Whatever the adaptive genetic response of tree species to environmental change, the best option will certainly be to keep as much as possible the within- and between-population genetic diversity of populations because genetic diversity is presumably correlated to a wider range of phenotypic responses and a higher degree of adaptability to change. In any case, management options require to consider the dynamics of biodiversity in space and time.

Challenges and opportunities for managing Mediterranean woodland ecosystems and their diversity.

Many management options of woodlands may be designed designed to maintain their diversity and sustainability in a context of environmental and land use changes. They are often site specific. The mouth arms end in vermicular filaments. Ecology: can form dense aggregations in coastal areas during summer months, although it can also appear all year round. Depending upon food availability and other environmental variables, the scyphistomas form large numbers of pelagic medusas.

First Mediterranean record: in from the coasts of Israel [ 91 ]. Mode of introduction : entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

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Impacts: It is a voracious predator that consumes vast amounts of shrimp, mollusc and fish larvae and can cause major trophic cascades in the marine food web, with a resulting impact on biodiversity. It can inflict painful injuries to bathers. Furthermore, large swarms can clog fishing nets, consequently reducing catches, and block cooling water intakes of coastal industrial facilities and desalination plants.

Scientific name: Brachidontes pharaonis P. Classification: Mollusca Bivalvia , Mytilidae. Shell equivalve, inequilateral, attached to substrate by stout byssus. Sculpture of numerous fine radial bifurcating ribs, which become coarser posteriorly and margin crenulate. The hinge has dysodont teeth. Ecology : Suspension feeders.

Lives in shallow water at sea level or just below attached by its byssus to rocks and stones, mostly in clusters. It may reach very high densities and cover completely a rocky shore. First Mediterranean record: in from Egypt, Port Said [ 92 ]. Mode of introduction: propagules entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. Ship transport as a major vector.

Impacts: Locally invasive. Scientific name: Percnon gibbesi H. Classification: Arthropoda Malacostraca , Percnidae. Description : This mimetic, relatively small crab is up to 3 cm across. The carapace is brownish green and the long, flattened legs are banded with golden yellow rings. The ventral surface is pale. The walking legs have a row of spines along the leading edge. The eyestalks and claws are orange. Ecology : It occurs along shallow infralittoral rocky shores, under boulders, or in narrow crevices. It is an opportunistic herbivorous feeder, consuming filamentous and calcareous algae, and the fine film of algal growth.

But it may also feed on animal food such as pagurids, polychaetes, gastropods, crustaceans and jellyfish. Mode of introduction: It may spread in the ballast waters of ships and on fishing nets as well as being transported in its larval stage by water currents. Impacts : Its widespread and expanding distribution along the Mediterranean coasts and the high rates of increase in abundance tell us that it is a highly invasive species. Since its habitat overlaps with those of native Pachygrapsus marmoratus and Eriphia verrucosa, e xclusion of native crabs may occur in some areas.

Classification : Chordata Actinopterygii , Fistulariidae. Description : a fish with a grey to olivegreen body, commonly 20— cm long max. The body is extremely elongated, becoming depressed after head, which is very long.

The Mediterranean Region: Biological Diversity through Time and Space

Snout tubular and long, ending in a small mouth. Teeth are very small. Dorsal and anal fins are posterior in position, opposite to each other. The skin is smooth, without bony plates along the midline of the back. Ecology : Lives solitary or in small groups, near reefs.

The Mediterranean Region Biological Diversity through Time and

Feeds mainly on fish as well as on squids and shrimps. First Mediterranean record : in from Israel [ 95 ]. Mode of introduction: Entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. Impacts : It is an extremely voracious predator and is aggressive when in schools. It preys on native commercially important fish. Its rapid increase in abundance may potentially have adverse effects competing with native fish communities by exploiting local resources faster. Classification : Chordata Actinopterygii , Tetraodontidae.

Description: The body is elongated 20—85 cm , somewhat compressed laterally and inflatable.

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The body is brownish in colour with black, regularly distributed spots of equal size dorsally; a conspicuous wide silver band is present on the lower parts of the flanks, from the mouth to the caudal fin. The head is large with a blunt snout. Ecology: Capable of inflating when threatened. Feeds on benthic invertebrates. It is a benthic species living above sandy substrate in the vicinity of the coral reef but also in deep waters up to m. Impacts: It contains tetrodotoxin TTX that may cause death. It attacks fishes caught in nets and on lines and can cause serious damage to both fishing gear and catch.

Classification: Chordata Actinopterygii , Scorpaenidae. Eight small white spots are present on the lateral line.

The conservation of Mediterranean biodiversity from science to actions — Medwet

It has often large tentacles above eyes. Ecology: It inhabits natural and artificial substrates. It is a voracious predator feeding on small fish, shrimps and crabs. Lionfishes are well known for their venomous spines to ward off predators. Globalization of trade and travel, together with climate change, habitat modification, aquaculture and mariculture, the aquarium trade and biological invasions themselves have facilitated the introduction and spread of marine invasive species, and without an effort to manage such introductions, the number of invasive species is expected to become much greater in the future.

Since invasive species are globally recognized as a threat, policies to reduce the introduction and spread of alien species, and to manage those species whose populations are already established, are a priority for governments within Europe, and for the European Union [ 98 , 99 ]. For a better understanding of the invasive potential and spread dynamics of invasive species, the establishment of regular monitoring programs is necessary. Invasive species can be managed through different strategies: prevention, early detection, eradication and control The European Commission, [ ].

Because biological invasions are generally irreversible, prevention is an important task in many management strategies [ ]. It is the cheapest and most effective option to reduce the future ecological and economic costs of invasive species [ ]. Identification of the most common pathways for introduction can help mould international policies aimed at preventing this phenomenon. Since commercial shipping seems to be the most significant vector for exotic species introduction through ballast water, hull fouling and passive dispersal through canals , ballast water and fouling management practices e.

Mitigation measures proposed by the biological community in an attempt to check the unremitting introduction of allochthonous species through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean include the installation of salinity barriers and of air bubble screens. Controlling the spread of invasive species requires international cooperation, and this is often difficult to achieve [ ]. An important step towards prescribing the management of ballast water was achieved through the adoption by the International Maritime Organisation IMO of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments BWM Convention in , which will finally come on stream in September after enough signatory parties ratified it.

Aquaculture and mariculture practices can be more effectively controlled than any other pathway [ ]. The FAO Code [ ] discourages the use of invasive alien species in aquaculture and requests consultation with neighbouring states before introducing alien species. In terms of aquaculture imports, quarantine measures have been recommended [ , ]. Many species are incidentally imported as contaminants, along with intentionally introduced species [ 44 ], whilst intentional releases into the wild by aquarium hobbyists in the Mediterranean are not known e.

Lutjanus sebae —[ ]. The aquarium trade could be regulated following similar procedures as to aquaculture and by raising awareness of the public about the dangers of releasing aquarium species to the sea.


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To mitigate the ecological impacts of IAS in the Mediterranean, different actions can be undertaken: eradication manual, biological and chemical methods , containment and control. Invasive species are successfully eliminated when actions start as soon as possible after their introduction [ ]. Therefore, a collaboration between researchers, resource management agencies, and policy makers is needed to make management procedures more effective. Since the evaluation of management measures is essential for appropriate actions [ ], a set of criteria effectiveness, ecological impact and impact on human health have been recently proposed to evaluate the effectiveness of the same measures [ ].

The complexity of interactions between native and invasive species and the associated impacts makes environmental management quite difficult [ 53 ]. Therefore, continuous research is fundamental to predict future invasions and their effects.

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