19 December 2009

Mediterranean Sea: an example of the oceans' destiny?

A recent review describes how the Mediterranean Sea could offer an idea of the disastrous future of the oceans.

This review of more than 100 studies on the Mediterranean’s changing ecological dynamics, describes the convergence of climate change and human impacts in waters that had been stable since the time of Aristotle.

Rising temperatures, disrupted deep-water hydrology, overfishing, shrinked food-webs, mass die-offs, diseases and pollution are some of the threats that are affecting the Mediterranean Sea. Other sea areas on Earth may not escape from this sad degradation destiny. The future doesn’t look so nice...



Lejeusne C., Chevaldonné P., Pergent-Martini C., Boudouresque C.F., Pérez T. 2009. Climate change effects on a miniature ocean: the highly diverse, highly impacted Mediterranean Sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2009.10.009

Little doubt is left that climate change is underway, strongly affecting the Earth's biodiversity. Some of the greatest challenges ahead concern the marine realm, but it is unclear to what extent changes will affect marine ecosystems. The Mediterranean Sea could give us some of the answers. Data recovered from its shores and depths have shown that sea temperatures are steadily increasing, extreme climatic events and related disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent, faunas are shifting, and invasive species are spreading. This miniature ocean can serve as a giant mesocosm of the world's oceans, with various sources of disturbances interacting synergistically and therefore providing an insight into a major unknown: how resilient are marine ecosystems, and how will their current functioning be modified?


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