A Roadmap for the Restoration of Mediterranean Macroalgal Forests

Cebrian, Emma; Tamburello, Laura; Verdura, Jana; Guarnieri, Giuseppe; Medrano, Alba; Linares, Cristina; Hereu, Bernat; Garrabou, Joaquim; Cerrano, Carlo; Galobart, Cristina; Fraschetti, Simonetta.  Frontiers in Marine Science 8 : 709219 (2021)  DIGITAL CSIC  

Canopy-forming macroalgae play a crucial role in coastal primary production and nutrient cycling, providing food, shelter, nurseries, and habitat for many vertebrate and invertebrate species. However, macroalgal forests are in decline in various places and natural recovery is almost impossible when populations become locally extinct. Hence, active restoration emerges as the most promising strategy to rebuild disappeared forests. In this regard, significant efforts have been made by several EU institutions to research new restoration tools for shallow and mesophotic reef habitats (e.g., MERCES EU project, AFRIMED, and ROCPOP-life) and effective techniques have subsequently been proposed to promote self-sustaining populations. Recent research indicates that macroalgal forest recovery requires a broad spectrum of measures, ranging from mitigating human impacts to restoring the most degraded populations and habitats, and that the viability of large restoration actions is compromised by ongoing human pressures (e.g., pollution, overgrazing, and climate change). We propose a roadmap for Mediterranean macroalgal restoration to assist researchers and stakeholders in decision-making, considering the most effective methods in terms of cost and costeffectiveness, and taking background environmental conditions and potential threats into account. Last, the challenges currently faced by the restoration of rocky coastal ecosystems under changing climate conditions are also discussed.