Collaborative Database to Track Mass Mortality Events in the Mediterranean Sea

J. Garrabou, D. Gòmez-Gras, J. Ledoux, C. Linares, N. Bensoussan, P. Lòpez-Sendino, H. Bazairi, ... , C.M. Duarte, S. Deudero, D. Díaz , ...
Front. Mar. Sci., 6:707, (2019)

Collaborative Database to Track Mass Mortality Events in the Mediterranean Sea


Climate change, Ocean warming, Marine heat wave impacts, Marine disease, Marine conservation and protection


​Anthropogenic climate change, and global warming in particular, has strong and increasing impacts on marine ecosystems (Poloczanska et al., 2013Halpern et al., 2015Smale et al., 2019). The Mediterranean Sea is considered a marine biodiversity hot-spot contributing to more than 7% of world's marine biodiversity including a high percentage of endemic species (Coll et al., 2010). The Mediterranean region is a climate change hotspot, where the respective impacts of warming are very pronounced and relatively well documented (Cramer et al., 2018). One of the major impacts of sea surface temperature rise in the marine coastal ecosystems is the occurrence of mass mortality events (MMEs). The first evidences of this phenomenon dated from the first half of'80 years affecting the Western Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea (Harmelin, 1984Bavestrello and Boero, 1986Gaino and Pronzato, 1989Voultsiadou et al., 2011). The most impressive phenomenon happened in 1999 when an unprecedented large scale MME impacted populations of more than 30 species from different phyla along the French and Italian coasts (Cerrano et al., 2000Perez et al., 2000). Following this event, several other large scale MMEs have been reported, along with numerous other minor ones, which are usually more restricted in geographic extend and/or number of affected species (Garrabou et al., 2009Rivetti et al., 2014Marbà et al., 2015Rubio-Portillo et al., 2016, authors' personal observations). These events have generally been associated with strong and recurrent marine heat waves (Crisci et al., 2011Kersting et al., 2013Turicchia et al., 2018Bensoussan et al., 2019) which are becoming more frequent globally (Smale et al., 2019).

Both field observations and future projections using Regional Coupled Models (Adloff et al., 2015Darmaraki et al., 2019) show the increase in Mediterranean sea surface temperature, with more frequent occurrence of extreme ocean warming events. As a result, new MMEs are expected during the coming years. To date, despite the efforts, neither updated nor comprehensive information can support scientific analysis of mortality events at a Mediterranean regional scale. Such information is vital to guide management and conservation strategies that can then inform adaptive management schemes that aim to face the impacts of climate change.


DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00707


Website PDF

See all publications 2019