Extensive loss of macroalgal forests advocates for large-scale restoration interventions, to compensate habitat degradation and recover the associated ecological functions and services. Yet, restoration attempts have generally been limited to small spatial extensions, with the principal aim of developing efficient restorations techniques.
This study explored the success of outplanting Cystoseira amentacea v. stricta germlings cultured in aquaria. The experiment was undertaken in the intertidal rocky shores of SE Italy. In each selected location, the effects of adult conspecifics and the exclusion of macrograzers (salema fish and sea urchins) on the survival of germlings were tested.
The authors highlight that despite the high mortality observed during outplanting and early settlement stages, survival of C. amentacea germlings was consistently favored by the exclusion of macrograzers, while the presence of adult conspecifics had no effects. It is also stated that the cost analysis of the interventions showed the feasibility of the ex-situ method, representing an essential tool for preserving Cystoseira forests.
It is concluded that large scale restoration is possible but requires baseline information with an in-depth knowledge of the species ecology and of the areas to be restored, together with the development of specific cultivation protocols to make consistently efficient restoration interventions.
Tamburello et al. (2019) Are we ready for scaling up restoration actions? An insight from Mediterranean macroalgal canopies. PLoS ONE 14:e0224477