|Marine Biodiversity Warming vs. Biological Invasions and overfishing in the Mediterranean Sea: Take care, ‘One Train can hide another’ |
(Article) Publié: Moj Ecology & Environmental Science, vol. 2 p.1-13 (2017)
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Biodiversity means the variety of life, encompassing levels of complexity from within species to across ecosystems. Biodiversity therefore includes several dimensions: evolutionary scale (genetic, species, higher taxonomic levels and phylogenetic diversity), functional scale, organizational scale (patch, ecosystem, landscape/seascape diversity), spatial scale (from sample to local, regional and global richness) and heterogeneity diversity. Biodiversity can therefore be measured in different and complementary ways, thus involving the use of at least 200 different metrics, which can suggest different and contrasting conclusions. It is worth emphasizing that species richness may be the least appropriate metric, despite its popular acceptance. There is a growing tendency for stakeholders, managers, government officials, environmentalists, scientists, politicians and the media to focus, as concerns threats to biodiversity, on species richness and climate change. However, focusing on climate warming can mask other stressors that, today, and perhaps for decades to come, may have more impact on ecosystems than global warming. In the Mediterranean Sea, the overall impact of Non-Indigenous Species (NISs) and overfishing on species diversity, ecosystem diversity and ecosystem functioning exceeds to a greater or lesser degree the direct impact of warming. Drastically altered functioning patterns, and even new ecosystems are spreading throughout the Mediterranean Sea. This trend is likely to become more pronounced over the next decades. Ecosystem goods and services are also being profoundly altered, generally towards a decline, as illustrated by the overgrazed barren grounds of the eastern basin, which no longer support fisheries, by the impact of the Caulerpa meadows on the scuba diving business and the economic value of the fisheries of the western basin, by the brackish lagoon ecosystems and by the blooms of the introduced comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Black Sea, before the arrival of its predator Beroe ovata. Here, we draw attention to the fact that, at this moment and probably also in the future, the huge flow of NISs and overfishing constitute worrying issues, although largely ignored by stakeholders and political authorities. Take care: Un train peut en cacher un autre (one train can hide another; i.e. one danger may hide other unsuspected dangers), that is to say the impact of warming may contribute to hiding other effects, of at least equal gravity, such as biological invasions and overfishing.