What is it
Develop new empirical models on the interaction between climate change, biodiversity, functions and services in marine coastal ecosystems
Establish a framework to assess the vulnerability of marine socio-ecological systems under climate change scenarios.
Evaluate the effectiveness of nature-based solutions and protection measures at enhancing the resilience capacity of marine coastal ecosystems.
Provide evidence-based guidance for marine policy formulation and innovative research pathways.
The overall concept of the MaCoBioS project is to propose cost-effective mitigation and adaptation nature-based solutions to tackle the effects of climate change by disentangling the relationship between climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services in marine coastal ecosystems under complex combinations of stressors. To this aim, MaCoBioS will use the ecological condition of ecosystems as a cornerstone (Figure 1). The absorption of climate change effects by marine coastal ecosystems is directly linked to their ecological condition and their level of biodiversity and adaptive capacity. Indeed, the range, quality and quantity of services provided by an ecosystem is dependent on its ecological condition. For instance, the provision of ecosystem services may decrease or change when the ecosystem is disturbed or degraded and there is a loss in biological integrity due to climate change environmental drivers and anthropogenic stressors. A decrease in ecosystem services provisioning could then lead to a higher sensitivity to climate change and toward a non-linear response in the ability of a socio-ecological system to absorb climate change impacts as a consequence. Methodological constraints and the lack of data mean it is not yet possible to robustly evaluate the relationship between the degradation of an ecosystem and the level of ecosystem services provided along with the potential feedback on climate change dynamics. Blue Carbon assessments currently rely on an assumed linear relationship between targeted ecosystems’ surface areas and average carbon sequestration rate data, without any consideration for the ecological condition of ecosystems and the complexity of the spatio-temporal dynamics of carbon sequestration processes.
The development of a comprehensive indicator system for biodiversity and ecosystem services assessment will facilitate more accurate predictions on how the provision of services change. Many indicators already exist in the literature and will be reviewed (e.g. Marine Strategy Framework Directive indicators) but these indicators are often based on simple metrics (i.e. coral cover in reefs) that do not integrate the complexity of biodiversity and functional dimension. As a consequence, current indicators may not reflect the global ecosystem condition, but more individual compartment responses to changes. Defining what constitutes a good ecological condition for an ecosystem is, however, very complex to assess as it requires a detailed understanding of its intricate functioning. It relies on the overall productivity, the safe operating space of foundation and associated species, the connectivity with other habitats, the diversity and redundancy of functional groups, the presence of rare species, the adaptive capacity of species at the individual and population levels, and on the fragile mutualistic interactions involving foundation species (i.e. coral species and zooxanthellae). MaCoBioS will work on such parameters to elaborate a comprehensive and integrated indicator system with correlation and discrimination analysis, following principles of hierarchy, simplicity, comprehensiveness, and operability. Defining the right set of indicators is critical to predicting the effects of climate change and more direct anthropogenic stressor, defining the vulnerability of the ecosystem (that depends on its ecological condition) and assessing the potential consequences to human well-being. Developing ecological condition indicators will be crucial to monitor marine coastal ecosystems effectively and to guide policymakers into developing adapted ecosystem-based policies to maintain in or restore marine coastal ecosystems to a good ecological condition through increased investment in integrated and cost-effective nature-based solutions. MaCoBioS will bridge the ecological impact of climate change on marine coastal ecosystems, the vulnerability of socio-ecological systems according to multiple climate change scenarios, the implementation of effective nature-based solutions, and ensure efficient uptake from and to policymakers and otherdecision-making stakeholders involved in marine coastal ecosystems management.