What do we really protect in the Mediterranean Sea ?

A colleague of mine in Evora, François Guilhaumon, has published a paper in Current Biology. The authors ask whether current marine reserves in the Mediterranean are actually doing a good job of protecting the diversity of Mediterranean fish. The answer is generally yes, but depending on how you measure diversity there are many hotspots that are not well protected. You can read the abstract below, and find the paper here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098221100532X.

Protected and Threatened Components of Fish Biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea.

David Mouillot,Camille Albouy, François Guilhaumon, Frida Ben Rais Lasram, Marta Coll, Vincent Devictor, Christine N. Meynard, Daniel Pauly, Jean Antoine Tomasini, Marc Troussellier, Laure Velez, Reg Watson, Emmanuel J.P. Douzery, and Nicolas Mouquet.

The Mediterranean Sea (0.82% of the global oceanic surface) holds 4%–18% of all known marine species (not, vert, similar17,000), with a high proportion of endemism (see a comprehensive review available at PLoS One). This exceptional biodiversity is under severe threats but benefits from a system of 100 marine protected areas (MPAs). Surprisingly, the spatial congruence of fish biodiversity hot spots with this MPA system and the areas of high fishing pressure has not been assessed. Moreover, evolutionary and functional breadth of species assemblages has been largely overlooked in marine systems. Here we adopted a multifaceted approach to biodiversity by considering the species richness of total, endemic, and threatened coastal fish assemblages as well as their functional and phylogenetic diversity. We show that these fish biodiversity components are spatially mismatched. The MPA system covers a small surface of the Mediterranean (0.4%) and is spatially congruent with the hot spots of all taxonomic components of fish diversity. However, it misses hot spots of functional and phylogenetic diversity. In addition, hot spots of endemic species richness and phylogenetic diversity are spatially congruent with hot spots of fishery impact. Our results highlight that future conservation strategies and assessment efficiency of current reserve systems will need to be revisited after deconstructing the different components of biodiversity.



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