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Title: Local and global stressors as major drivers of the drastic regression of brown macroalgae forests in an oceanic island
Authors: Valdazo, José
Coca, Josep 
Haroun, Ricardo 
Bergasa, Oscar 
Viera-Rodríguez, María Ascensión 
Tuya, Fernando 
UNESCO Clasification: 251004 Botánica marina
Keywords: Atlantic
Global Change
Macroalgal Forests, et al
Issue Date: 2024
Journal: Regional Environmental Change 
Abstract: Similar to other coastal regions worldwide, forests created by brown macroalgae have severely declined in recent decades across the Macaronesian oceanic archipelagos (northeastern Atlantic), eroding the provision of ecosystem services. However, the putative effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors (both local and global) on such declines across spatial and temporal scales remain unresolved. Our research endeavored to investigate the connection between local and global stressors and the distribution and extent of the brown macroalgae Gongolaria abies-marina in the rocky intertidal and adjacent subtidal zones of Gran Canaria over the past four decades. We also quantified the presence of populations at small scales, according to local micro-habitat topography (“open rock” versus “refuge”). Through herbarium records, we additionally analyzed the historical variation in the thallus size of the species. Finally, we experimentally assessed the thermotolerance of embryonic stages to warming. The main environmental drivers explaining the regression of G.abies-marina were the increasing number of marine heatwaves, while the number of local human impacts (quantified through the HAPI index) also accounted for further regression in the extent of marine forests. Warming experimentally reduced the survival and size of macroalgal embryos. A progressive miniaturization of the species, currently restricted to micro-habitat refuges as a survival strategy, seems likely to be the final stage in the progressive disappearance of this macroalgae from the island’s rocky shores.
ISSN: 1436-3798
DOI: 10.1007/s10113-024-02228-1
Source: Regional Environmental Change [ISSN 1436-3798],v. 24 (2), (Junio 2024)
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