Long-term shifts in the north western Mediterranean coastal seascape: The habitat-forming seaweed Codium vermilara

Ricart, Aurora M.García, MaríaWeitzmann, BorisLinares, CristinaHereu, BernatBallesteros, Enric. Marine Pollution Bulletin 127 : 334-341 (2018)  DIGITAL CSIC

Long-term ecological studies are crucial to understand how and why natural ecosystems change over time and space. Through a revision of historical data and a comparison with current in situ field data, we contribute to the understanding of how the Mediterranean coastal seascape has changed in the last decades. Here we describe the large decrease of the main habitat-forming species Codium vermilara along the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean). We have analyzed data on presence/absence, abundance and biomass. Since the 70s–80s, when the species reached its highest abundances, the species has totally disappeared from 45% of the revisited sites, and showed a decrease in 95% of its abundance and 97% of its biomass. Codium vermilara has also shown a reduction in its depth range, from 30 to the first 20 m depth. This study highlights the importance of having historical data to detect and describe changes in ecological systems.