Beca-Carretero, Pedro ORCID:, Winters, Gidon, Teichberg, Mirta, Procaccini, Gabriele, Schneekloth, Fabian, Zambrano, Ramon H., Chiquillo, Kelcie and Reuter, Hauke ORCID: (2023) Climate change and the presence of invasive species will threaten the persistence of the Mediterranean seagrass community. Science of The Total Environment, 910 . p. 168675. DOI

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The Mediterranean Sea has been experiencing rapid increases in temperature and salinity triggering its tropicalization. Additionally, its connection with the Red Sea has been favouring the establishment of non-native species. In this study, we investigated the effects of predicted climate change and the introduction of invasive seagrass species (Halophila stipulacea) on the native Mediterranean seagrass community (Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa) by applying a novel ecological and spatial model with different configurations and parameter settings based on a Cellular Automata (CA). The proposed models use a discrete (stepwise) representation of space and time by executing deterministic and probabilistic rules that develop complex dynamic processes. Model applications were run under two climate scenarios (RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5) projected from 2020 to 2100 in four different regions within the Mediterranean. Results indicate that the slow-growing P. oceanica will be highly vulnerable to climate change, suffering vast declines in its abundance. However, the results also show that western and colder areas of the Mediterranean Sea might represent refuge areas for this species. Cymodocea nodosa has been reported to exhibit resilience to predicted climate scenarios; however, it has shown habitat regression in the warmest predicted regions in the easternmost part of the basin. Our models indicate that H. stipulacea will thrive under projected climate scenarios, facilitating its spread across the basin. Also, H. stipulacea grew at the expense of C. nodosa, limiting the distribution of the latter, and eventually displacing this native species. Additionally, simulations demonstrated that areas from which P. oceanica meadows disappear would be partially covered by C. nodosa and H. stipulacea. These outcomes project that the Mediterranean seagrass community will experience a transition from long-lived, large and slow-growing species to small and fast-growing species as climate change progresses.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Integrated Modelling > Spatial Ecology and Interactions
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 00489697
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2024 10:05
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:31

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