Coastal areas have been transformed worldwide by urbanization, so that artificial structures are now widespread. Current coastal development locally depletes many native marine species, while offering limited possibilities for their expansion. Eco-engineering interventions intend to identify ways to facilitate the presence of focal species and their associated functions on artificial habitats. An important but overlooked factor controlling restoration operations is overgrazing by herbivores. The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of different potential feeders on Cystoseira amentacea, a native canopy-forming alga of the Mediterranean infralittoral fringe, and test whether manipulation of grazing pressure can facilitate the human-guided installation of this focal species on coastal structures. Results of laboratory tests and field experiments revealed that Sarpa salpa, the only strictly native herbivorous fish in the Western Mediterranean Sea, can be a very effective grazer of C. amentacea in artificial habitats, up to as far as the infralittoral fringe, which is generally considered less accessible to fishes. S. salpa can limit the success of forestation operations in artificial novel habitats, causing up to 90% of Cystoseira loss after a few days. Other grazers, such as limpets and crabs, had only a moderate impact. Future engineering operations,intended to perform forestation of canopy-forming algae on artificial structures, should consider relevant biotic factors, such as fish overgrazing, identifying cost-effective techniques to limit their impact, as is the usual practice in restoration programmes on land.

Reduction of herbivorous fish pressure can facilitate focal algal species forestation on artificial structures

GIANNI F
;
2018-01-01

Abstract

Coastal areas have been transformed worldwide by urbanization, so that artificial structures are now widespread. Current coastal development locally depletes many native marine species, while offering limited possibilities for their expansion. Eco-engineering interventions intend to identify ways to facilitate the presence of focal species and their associated functions on artificial habitats. An important but overlooked factor controlling restoration operations is overgrazing by herbivores. The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of different potential feeders on Cystoseira amentacea, a native canopy-forming alga of the Mediterranean infralittoral fringe, and test whether manipulation of grazing pressure can facilitate the human-guided installation of this focal species on coastal structures. Results of laboratory tests and field experiments revealed that Sarpa salpa, the only strictly native herbivorous fish in the Western Mediterranean Sea, can be a very effective grazer of C. amentacea in artificial habitats, up to as far as the infralittoral fringe, which is generally considered less accessible to fishes. S. salpa can limit the success of forestation operations in artificial novel habitats, causing up to 90% of Cystoseira loss after a few days. Other grazers, such as limpets and crabs, had only a moderate impact. Future engineering operations,intended to perform forestation of canopy-forming algae on artificial structures, should consider relevant biotic factors, such as fish overgrazing, identifying cost-effective techniques to limit their impact, as is the usual practice in restoration programmes on land.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/15228
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