EUROMARINE WORKSHOP: Status, trends and conservation options of marine coastal biodiversity under global change scenarios (STRANGE)

This one-day workshop is scheduled for June 26 and will take place at the Symposium venue starting at 9:00 a.m. (A Program will be added on this page at a later stage). Registration to the workshop is required. Please send a confirmation email to


Marine coastal environments are amongst the most productive systems of the planet, yet they are undergoing rapid transformations in response to intensifying human activities and global change. As our understanding of the cumulative effects of multiple threats increases, solutions to mitigate local and regional environmental impacts have emerged. For example, there is increasing recognition that artificial structures can be designed to provide both physical infrastructure and critical services. Such solutions are increasingly adopted in marine urban design to fulfill multifunctional goals, such as biodiversity enhancement, pollution mitigation and recreational amenity.

However, while promising, these solutions may not be adequate in the face of global climate change. Ocean warming and acidification, increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climate events, sea-level rise and biological invasions, combined with local and regional environmental pressures, are already affecting the marine coastal environment significantly. Ensuring that the environmental solutions implemented today will also be effective tomorrow requires moving beyond the local and regional perspectives of environmental management. The development of a more comprehensive framework that internalises the predicted effects of global change is crucial for translating the multifunctional goals of marine coastal environment management, including environmental, economic and societal sustainability, into effective policy.


This workshop will perform both SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and PESTLE (Political, Economics, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental) analyses to assess the current status and expected trends of marine coastal biodiversity under current management and conservation practices in the light of global change. We will focus on three key, highly connected, themes of marine coastal biodiversity: (1) regime shifts and resilience; (2) invasive species; and (3) habitat rehabilitation. For each of these aspects, we will identify a range of likely scenarios and associated risks under climate change, ask whether current management practice can address the risks and fulfil the stated goals under each scenario and evaluate alternatives to existing practices where appropriate.

Theme 1: Regime shifts – abrupt changes in the state of an ecosystem – are increasingly observed in marine coastal environments. In many instances, regime shifts involve loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function (e.g., productivity). Examples include transitions from algal forests to turf-forming algae (low-lying filamentous and ephemeral algae) or barren habitat and the shift from seagrasses to dead ‘matte’ as in the case of the Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica.

Key questions: will regime shifts become more frequent in the marine coastal environment with climate change? How can we increase the resilience of marine coastal biodiversity to climate change? Can we anticipate regimes shifts? How will climate change affect the ability to reverse regime shifts?

Theme 2: Invasive species are spreading at an increasing pace in the world’s oceans and regional seas, causing impacts on native biodiversity. Shipping is one of the main vectors of dispersal of non-indigenous species and evidence increasingly indicates that harbours are focal points of invasion. Coastal infrastructure such as groins and breakwaters may further facilitate the spread of invasive species connecting otherwise unsuitable patches of habitat.

Key questions: Which regional stressors most likely interact with climate change to increase species invasions? Does the design of coastal infrastructures that enhances native biodiversity also creates opportunities for invasive species? Are there alternative designs?

Theme 3: Habitat restoration and rehabilitation programs are increasingly used to mitigate the loss of species assemblages in degraded marine coastal environments. Examples include interventions to restore algal forests and seagrass beds. The outcome of a restoration or rehabilitation plan is, however, highly unpredictable and may depend upon contingent factors such as local hydrodynamic conditions. For example, a storm may easily eradicate recently transplanted seagrass plants. Accumulation of new enemies, such as pathogens and parasites favored by climate change, may further reduce the probability of success of a restoration or rehabilitation program.

Key questions: Can restoration and rehabilitation interventions be used to reverse regime shifts? Can these interventions be designed to minimize species invasions? How can we design effective restoration and rehabilitation programs in the face of intensifying storm systems and increasing energy of waves and winds? How will targets species in restoration and rehabilitation programs (e.g., algal canopies, seagrasses) perform under modified climate conditions.

Outcomes and expected impact

STRANGE aims at bringing together a critical mass of expertise to forecast the consequences of global change and climate effects on marine coastal biodiversity, identifying gaps and weaknesses and suggesting solutions for mitigating escalating impacts and to implement effective conservation policy. The SWOT and PESTLE analyses of the three focal themes will allow these goals to be achieved by bringing together scientific and socioeconomic approaches. Expected outcomes include:

  1. Position paper on the design of tomorrow’s marine coastal environments
  2. Joint proposal for upcoming Horizon 2020 calls, or document to prompt a focused call otherwise.
  3. Outreach through the web site, including advertisement of the workshop and update of the workshop’s outcomes

We are aware that these tasks cannot be fully accomplished in a one-day workshop that will thus function as a brainstorming opportunity. Discussions and documents drafted at the meeting will provide a solid basis to finalize outcomes in the following weeks via online meetings. In addition, the ITRS meeting will provide most of the workshop attendants with the opportunity to continue discussing the workshop topics.