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N°32 I quarterly I January 2014 Focus | 25 w q The debate on climate change often focuses on the Earth’s temperature or the rise in sea levels. Yet many other effects are already visible, especially among flora and fauna. “Global warming, along with other factors like pollution, habitat fragmentation, and the arrival of exotic species, is also disrupting marine ecosystems,” reports Jean-Pierre Féral of the IMBE1 at the Endoume marine station in Marseille. “There are already unmistakable signs of this disruption. The temperature of the Mediterranean has risen by 1°C in just 30 years, which is considerable.” Hundreds of species of fish, algae, and invertebrates that migrated from the Red Sea when the Suez Canal opened, or that used to remain off the coast of North Africa, are now reaching the northwestern basin of the Mediterranean, taking advantage of the milder temperatures. “The grouper, for example, used to breed warming on marine life is rarely included in reports like those of the IPCC,” Féral laments. “But things are changing as the depletion of marine resources, especially halieutic ones, and its impact on our food supply, are becoming a cause for concern.” 01. Institut méditerranéen de biodiversité et d’écologie marine et continentale (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université / IRD / Université d’Avignon). contact information: Jean-Pierre Féral > jean-pierre.feral@imbe.fr off the African coast,” Féral notes, “but now it is breeding in French waters as well.” Climate change and subsequent heat waves can have disastrous effects. “In 1999, 2003, 2006, and 2009, the mortality rates of certain species of sponges, algae, and invertebrates were extremely high,” the researcher adds. “For more than a month, the warm surface waters replaced the cooler deep waters (12 to 13°C), decimating the species that were unable to migrate.” To distinguish climate effects from other disturbances, researchers perform comparative studies between the affected zones and marine reserves that are shielded from pollution, like the Scandola Reserve in Corsica. “The impact of global 12 The distribution range of this Alpine thistle, Berardia subacaulis, is likely to be greatly reduced by climate change. 13 This fish species Thalassoma pavo has migrated to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. 14 The massive die-off of Red Sea fans could be exacerbated by the warming of the Mediterranean. © IPSL/CEA 13 14 12 © S. BEC/CNRS Phototh èque © S. Ruitt on/AMU © F. Zu berer /CNRS Visible   Visible effects   effects


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