Journal article Open Access

Spatial congruence between multiple stressors in the Mediterranean Sea may reduce its resilience to climate impacts

Francisco Ramírez; Marta Coll; Joan Navarro; Javier Bustamante; Andy J. Green

Climate impacts on marine ecosystems may be exacerbated by other, more local stressors interacting synergistically, such as pollution and overexploitation of marine resources. The reduction of these human stressors has been proposed as an achievable way of retaining ecosystems within a “safe operating space” (SOS), where they remain resilient to ongoing climate change. However, the operability of an SOS requires a thorough understanding of the spatial distribution of these climate and human impacts. Using the Mediterranean Sea as a case study, we illustrate the spatial congruence between climate and human stressors impacting this iconic “miniature ocean” synergistically. We use long-term, spatially-explicit information on the distribution of multiple stressors to identify those highly impacted marine areas where human stressors should be prioritized for management if the resilience to climate impacts is to be maintained. Based on our spatial analysis, we exemplify how the management of an essential supporting service (seafood provision) and the conservation of a highly impacted Mediterranean sub-region (the Adriatic Sea) may benefit from the SOS framework.

F. Ramírez was partially funded by ECOPOTENTIAL (grant agreement No. 641762, European Union -EUHorizon 2020) and "Subprograma Juan de la Cierva-Incorporación; Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad" (IJCI-2015-24531). M. Coll acknowledges partial financial support by SafeNET (EU-DGMARE MARE/2014/41, EU Horizon 2020), MERCES (grant agreement No. 689518, EU Horizon 2020) and PELWEB (CTM2017-88939-R, Spanish Government). J Navarro was funded by "Programa Ramón y Cajal; Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad "(RYC-2015-1780). Photos are courtesy of Javier Díaz and figures were edited by Isabel Afán, "Remote Sensing and GIS Lab" of the "Estación Biológica de Doñana" (CSIC) (LAST-EBD).
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