WP2 : Services provided by the Mediterranean ecosystems

Ecosystem service assessment

The assessment of ecosystem services in OT-Med is motivated by the significant changes in land and ocean ecosystems brought about by the recent rapid changes in climate, atmospheric CO2 and land management. Approaching more sustainable land and sea management strategies need to account for the multiple benefits people draw from these systems, beginning with food and other primary resources, but also including indirect benefits, such as tourism and improved well-being from a healthy environment. The study of ecosystems from this perspective requires an interdisciplinary approach based on agronomy, ecology, economics, sociology (Lindeskog et al. 2013, Bennett et al. in press). Adapting state-of-the-art approaches for scenario assessment of ecosystem services in the Mediterranean is an ongoing activity, with notably the EU-funded OPERAs project and the working group “Mediterranean Ecosystem Services”, coordinated at IMBE (I Geijzendorffer); a new PhD student, funded through OPERAs is associated with OT-Med for providing an unique mapping expertise (Garcia Nieto et al, in press).

Detecting and attributing impacts of climate change

Assessing past impacts of observed climate change on natural, human and managed systems requires detailed knowledge about the effects of both climatic and other drivers of change, and their respective interactions. The resulting requirements with regard to system understanding and long-term observational data can be prohibitive for quantitative detection and attribution methods, especially in the case of human systems and in regions with poor monitoring records (Cramer et al. 2014). In Hansen et al. (in press) we demonstrate how multiple lines of evidence can be integrated in support of attribution of recent climate change for human and managed systems. Results can allow for modelling the whole climate-impact system.

Water and energy requirements for irrigation in Mediterranean ecosystems

Mediterranean agroecosystems provide a number of important services, including food production. Their agronomic and economic performance depends very much on water in the form of rain or irrigation. However, the hydrological system of already water-limited agricultural landscapes around the Mediterranean is very likely to be under strong pressure in the near future through changes in consumer demands and diets, increasing urbanization, population growth, and new markets for agricultural exportation. Simulations for the future are developed and indicate that the Mediterranean may need considerable additional amounts of irrigation water. Fader et al. (2014) showed that photovoltaic panels can drive irrigation pumps under certain conditions, providing a realistic option for adaptation as well as a contribution to climate change mitigation.

Adaptation of marine organisms to environmental change

In order to identify the molecular basis of adaptation to contrasted environments, a new transcriptomic resource has been acquired for the study of local adaptation in red coral (Corallium rubrum) from different depths (5 and 40 m). After a period of acclimatization, differential gene expression is maintained between the two depths even after common acclimatization. It is potentially implicated in the response to thermal stress, which could be good candidates for the study of thermal adaptation for the red coral. The method proposed enables the identification of candidate loci of local adaptation useful for other non-model organisms (Pratlong et al. 2015). Matrotrophy may be favoured where offspring conditions are predictable from parental conditions, or where environmental fluctuations occur. In fluctuating or unpredictable environments, flexibility in matrotrophy may facilitate ‘bet-hedging’ strategies, maximizing reproductive success across narrow, changing fitness optima (Ostrovsky et al. in press).


  • Bennett EM, Cramer W, Begossi A, Cundill G, Díaz S, Egoh BN, Geijzendorffer IR, Krug CB, Lavorel S, Lazos E, Lebel L, Martín-Lopez B, Meyfroidt P, Mooney HA, Nel JL, Pascual U, Payet K, Pérez Harguindeguy N, Peterson GD, Prieur-Richard A-H, Reyers B, Roebeling P, Seppelt R, Solan M, Tschakert P, Tscharntke T, Turner II BL, Verburg PH, Viglizzo EF, White PCL, Woodward G in press Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being: Three challenges for designing research for sustainability Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
  • Cramer W, Yohe G, Auffhammer G, Huggel C, Molau U, Silva Dias MAF, Solow A, Stone D, Tibig L 2014 Detection and Attribution of Observed Impacts. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, Mach KJ, Mastrandrea MD, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy AN, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR, & White LL (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 979-1037
  • Fader M, Bondeau A, Cramer W, Decock S, Shi S 2014 How much water do we need for irrigation under climate change in the Mediterranean? Geophysical Research Abstracts 16, EGU2014-13848
  • Garcia Nieto AP, Quintas-Soriano C, Garcia-Llorente M, Palomo I, Montes C, Martin-Lopez B in press Collaborative mapping of ecosystem services: The role of stakeholders’ profiles. Ecosystem Services
  • Hansen G, Stone D, Auffhammer M, Huggel C, Cramer W in press Linking local impacts to changes in climate - a guide to attribution Regional Environmental Change, doi: 10.1007/s10113-015-0760-y Kaniewski D, Van Campo E, Guiot J, Le Burel S, Otto T, et al. 2013a Environmental roots of the late Bronze Age crisis. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71004, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071004
  • Lindeskog M, Arneth A, Bondeau A, Waha K, Seaquist J, Olin S, Smith B 2013 Implications of accounting for land use in simulations of ecosystem services and carbon cycling in Africa Earth Syst Dynam 4:385-407, doi: 10.5194/esd-4-385-2013
  • Ostrovsky AN, Lidgard S, Gordon DP, Schwaha T, Genikhovich G, Ereskovsky AV in press Matrotrophy and placentation in invertebrates: a new paradigm. Biological Reviews
  • Pratlong M, Haguenauer A, Chabrol O, Klopp C, Pontarotti P, Aurelle D 2015 The red coral (Corallium rubrum) transcriptome: a new resource for population genetics and local adaptation studies. Molecular Ecology Resources, doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12383