AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO EVALUATE AND MONITOR THE CONSERVATION STATE OF CORALLIGENOUS BOTTOMS: THE INDEX-COR METHOD

Abstract : Coralligenous outcrops represent a "hotspot" of Mediterranean marine biodiversity. Algae and sessile invertebrate taxa (mainly sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans and tunicates) structure the associated benthic assemblages and constitute remarkable seascapes. Nevertheless, this fragile habitat is submitted to a wide array of human impacts such as sewage outfalls, eutrophication, physical impacts linked to fishing and diving activities, as well as global warming effects. The current European legislative context (EU WFD, EU Habitat Directive, EU MSFD) imposes to reach or maintain a good environmental status for marine ecosystems. In this context, the MPA stakeholders need to have robust and accessible tools allowing the evaluation of the conservation state of the habitats. Concerning coralligenous bottoms, we propose a new method based on an integrated approach taking into account (i) the ratio between sensitive and tolerant species according to human impacts, (ii) the richness of macrotaxonomic descriptors assessed from direct observation (in situ or from images) and (iii) their structural complexity (basal, intermediate and upper layers present in coralligenous bottoms). These three metrics are combined into a global index called INDEX-COR. Datasets were acquired along the French coasts. In each site, 2 transects 15m long were installed on the bottom. Along each transect, 15 photo quadrats (40 cm x 60 cm) and 1 video were recorded and notes were taken by a SCUBA diver-Observer. This method was applied between 15 and 50 meters depth and can be also performed by a ROV (Remotely Operating Vehicule) or an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle). INDEX-COR is intended to be applied to other Mediterranean areas using metrics and species lists adapted to the different regional contexts.
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Stéphane Sartoretto, Romain David, Didier Aurelle, Anne Chenuil-Maurel, Dorian Guillemain, et al.. AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO EVALUATE AND MONITOR THE CONSERVATION STATE OF CORALLIGENOUS BOTTOMS: THE INDEX-COR METHOD. Conference: 2nd Mediterranean Symposium on the conservation of Coralligenous & other Calcareous Bio-Concretions, Oct 2014, Portorož, Slovenia. ⟨10.13140/2.1.3180.6405⟩. ⟨hal-01620618⟩

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