Are MedIterranean Marine prOtected areaS efficient against wArming effects?


Large-scale mass mortality events linked to climate change dramatically impacted the coralligenous communities, some of the richest communities of the Mediterranean. These events represent a new challenge for the Mediterranean biodiversity, a hotspot of marine diversity. To date, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are the most efficient tool for the conservation of marine organisms but their efficiency to mitigate the effects of climate change is questioned. In this context, we will develop a multidisciplinary project combining field and experimental ecology with population genetics in order to enhance the conservation of three habitat forming Anthozoans of the coralligenous in three emblematic MPAs (Medes Islands Natural Park and two declared World Heritage by UNESCO: Réserve Naturelle de Scandola, Zembra Archipelago National Park). Conducted in close collaboration with local managers, this project will fill the gap between scientific knowledge and management actions. More precisely, the results of the project will allow drawing specific recommendations for each studied MPA in order to implement proactive management strategies to mitigate climate change impacts. At regional level, the outcomes of the project will be widely transferred in the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP-MAP) and other regional activities (MEDPAN, IUCN, CIESM). Our final aim is to enhance the role of MPAs for the conservation of key Mediterranean habitats to face climate change pressures.



The original approach of the project lies in three points:

i) we will focus on atypical model species: three different habitat-forming Anthozoans. To date, most of the studies conducted on the planning of MPAs are focused on economically important fish species. MIMOSA will center focus on the red coral, Corallium rubrum, the red gorgonian Paramuricea clavata and the coral Astroides calycularis. Because of their central role in the biodiversity rich coralligenous habitat, their conservation will directly benefit to the entire associated community.

Corallium rubrum Paramuricea clavata Astroides calycularis

Corallium rubrum Paramuricea clavata Astroides calycularis


ii) we will develop for the first time an integrative approach relying on population genetics, demography and physiology allowing us to take into account the pressure linked to climate change in each studied MPA. Based on these results, we will depict the global functioning of each MPA (e.g. connectivity between populations, sources and sink population) and target populations with a specific conservation interest in the context of climate change.

iii) we will conduct this project in three emblematic Mediterranean MPAs, two of them were recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO (Réserve Naturelle de Scandola and Zembra Archipelago National Park). These MPAs are situated along a climatic gradient and are characterized by different management policies (e.g. activities allowed, level of enforcement). They belong to three different countries (Spain, France and Tunisia; see below) with different socio-economical context. The comparison between these three protected areas will allow us to draw general conclusions that will be used to enhance their functioning and the functioning of other Mediterranean MPAs including coralligenous habitats.