Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Dynamic of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows in the northwestern Mediterranean: Could climate change be to blame?


The distribution and the vitality of the P. oceanica meadow were monitored in the western Mediterranean at 15 sites along the coasts of Corsica (1000 km of coastline) using two monitoring systems, the Posidonia Monitoring Network and SeagrassNet, between 2004 and 2013. While the vitality of the meadow is satisfactory overall, due to the low impact of human pressure along these coasts, patterns of change over time show a slight degradation of the main descriptors of the meadow. The meadow's vitality index had declined on average by 8.6%, the BiPo index by 9.8%, and there was a regression of the lower limit at six sites. While this pattern of change may reflect local alterations in the environment (increase or decline in human pressure), the regressive dynamic of the meadow observed at the lower limit at several reference sites (e.g., Marine Protected Areas, sites distant from sources of human impact) is more worrying. Two hypotheses might explain the regression observed: (i) the rise in mean sea level during the study period, which may have resulted in a significant regression in sectors where the slope is relatively slight, and (ii) the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which declined from 2002 to reach very low values in 2010.

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Comptes Rendus Biologies



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