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The ups and downs of a canopy-forming seaweed over a span of more than one century

Abstract : Canopy-forming seaweeds constitute marine forests that deliver ecosystem services. the worldwide range shift, sharp decline or loss of many of these forests, caused by the cumulative impact of increasing human pressure and climate change, have been widely documented. Contrasting examples, reflecting higher than expected resilience, have been more rarely reported. Here, we took the opportunity of having at our disposal a two-century suite of documents (herbarium vouchers, articles) and a ~120-year observation period, dealing with a long-lived brown seaweed, Cystoseira mediterranea, along a well-explored Mediterranean coastline in the Gulf of Lions, to depict the fate of its populations. In addition, we provided baselines for future surveys, with a high degree of accuracy. the northernmost population, scattered on rare suitable substrates, gradually declined and has been extinct since the 1980s. The length of shore occupied by the southern population showed a long-term decline trend, with two sharp minima followed by partial recovery. The causes of the decline differ between sites and periods: coastal development, pollution, competition with mussels, heatwaves and exceptional storms. overall, the Gulf of Lions populations reflects long-lasting resilience, higher than expected, and a health status that is better than that reported for many other canopy-forming seaweeds.
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Submitted on : Sunday, July 7, 2019 - 4:08:57 PM
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Aurelie Blanfuné, Charles Boudouresque, Marc Verlaque, Thierry Thibaut. The ups and downs of a canopy-forming seaweed over a span of more than one century. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9, pp.5250. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-41676-2⟩. ⟨hal-02176151⟩

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