Marine animal forests in the Anthropocene: factors shaping the future seascape
The ocean transformation due to the direct or indirect human influence is a fact. One of the most affected ecosystems are the benthic ones, where bottom trawling, urban/agricultural development and climate change (among other things) deeply transform the bottom communities. Among these threatened communities, the marine forest is the most complex. The marine forest is composed of benthic macroalgae, phanerogams and suspension feeders (sponges, corals, gorgonians, etc.) which conform to three-dimensional living structures. Coral reefs, seaweeds, sponge grounds, seagrasses, oyster banks, cold water corals are some examples of this vast set of ecosystems dispersed all over the world. We will describe the role of such marine forests as ecosystem services providers but also as a key piece of ecosystem resilience, making emphasis on the Marine Animal Forests (MAF, those dominated by sessile suspension feeders). We will also try to understand which are the potential changes that affect such ecosystem engineering organisms and how the overlapping of conservation and restoration may help to regenerate one of the most important allies in front of climate change.
Sergio Rossi is a research scientist specializing in marine natural resources and biological oceanography.. His lines of research are related to Marine Biodiversity and Global Change and can be synthesized as: 1) Studying the role of environmental and biological factors of the water column on the distribution, nutritional condition and survival of benthic organisms to increase the knowledge and tools for coastal management. 2) Studying the physiology and trophic ecology of benthic in front of global change. 3) Underwater mapping and distribution of benthic suspension feeders through remote and deep diving techniques (Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) crossing experimental information with seascape methods to understand energy fluxes in the benthos, carbon sink role of the benthic suspension feeders and the anthropogenic impacts on benthic populations. 4) Conservation and restoration research on marine biodiversity in coastal areas. 5) Marine ecosystem services and environmental education, studying aspects of natural ecosystem and resource management. He also developed third-generation biofuel (marine microalgae) applied protocols, to make a realistic approach to this energy alternative. Lastly, but just as important, his job as a scientific journalist, reflected in his collaborations with several journals and magazines, demonstrates his strong commitment to scientific outreach (also reflected in eco- thrillers and books for kids).. Oceans in decline (2019, Springer- Nature, Copernicus series) and A journey in Antarctica (2022 Springer-Nature, Praxis series ) are critical essay books that are a strong examples of his efforts to communicate science to a wide audience in a rigorous, but easily comprehensible way.
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