The impact of climate change on mediterranean intertidal communities: Losses in coastal ecosystem integrity and services

Gianluca Sarà, Martina Milanese, Ivana Prusina, Antonio Sarà, Dror L. Angel, Branko Glamuzina, Tali Nitzan, Shirra Freeman, Alessandro Rinaldi, Valeria Palmeri, Valeria Montalto, Marco Lo Martire, Paola Gianguzza, Vincenzo Arizza, Sabrina Lo Brutto, Maurizio De Pirro, Brian Helmuth, Jason Murray, Stefano De Cantis, Gray A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As has been shown for other ecosystems, the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change on Mediterranean intertidal habitats are highly variable in space and time. We conducted field and laboratory measurements of cellular, ecophysiological and behavioural responses of selected intertidal invertebrates (mussels, gastropods and sponges) and completed a literature review to determine what is known of socio-economic consequences of these biological changes. Results suggest significant gaps in our knowledge that may impede a complete understanding of likely impacts (physical, biological and socio-economic) and that sufficient data for such an analysis are available only for mussels. Application of ecological models for native mussels Mytilaster minimus and invasive Brachidontes pharaonis bivalves indicates that the current distribution of these species is linked to the availability of food and local temperature. Choosing Israel as a case study, the study focused on the identification of ecosystem services and goods provided by the Mediterranean rocky intertidal and on the assessment of conservation approaches. Intertidal systems were poorly represented in the socio-economic literature, and there was low awareness of the value of these ecosystems among stakeholders. Subsequently, conservation efforts for intertidal communities were minimal. While climate change will very likely continue to impact these systems, our predictive capacity for the extent and locations of such impacts, and of any derived socio-economic consequences, remains limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This paper has been inspired and sustained by INTERMED, one of the CIRCLE Med projects funded by the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Territorial Planning, the Regional Ministry of Innovation and Industry of the Galician Government, the Ministry of Environment Protection of Israel, the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea, and the Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal, in the framework of Circle ERA Net project (which is funded by the European Commission 6th Framework Programme). We thank and are especially grateful to all collaborators and students from all laboratories and teams involved in this project.


  • Bioenergetic mechanistic modelling
  • Climate change
  • Ecophysiology
  • Ecosystem services
  • Intertidal
  • Invasive species
  • Mediterranean Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change


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