Mediterranean: Researchers point to a “collapse” of biodiversity in 30 years

The Mediterranean has known for 30 years about the “collapse” of its biodiversity, one of the most important in the world, which is now seriously endangered, warn scientists from the Tour du Valat, a research institute for the preservation of Mediterranean wetlands, in a report released Monday.

The Living Mediterranean report is based on an extensive study of studies published over the past 30 years, which brings together monitoring of the abundance of more than 80,000 animal populations in this part of the world where “climate change is faster and the impact of human activities stronger than elsewhere.”

Globally, sea levels have risen by about 15 cm in the 20th century, and the rise is accelerating, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Observation by a group of researchers: vertebrate populations in the Mediterranean basin fell by 20% between 1993 and 2016, and even by 52% in marine ecosystems (pelagic and coastal) and by 28% in freshwater ecosystems (wetlands and rivers).

Of all the species identified by the research, fish are the most affected, victims of overfishing. Thus, bluefin tuna recorded a 90% decline in the adult population.

“Most species bear the greatest burden of the effects of human activity and climate change, the size of which is expected to increase in the coming decades,” said Thomas Galewski, study coordinator.

Head turtle in the Mediterranean Sea, north of Tel Aviv, Israel (AFP / Archive – MENAHEM KAHANA)

“In addition, a large proportion of the species is endemic to the Mediterranean basin and evolves in limited areas of distribution, making them even more sensitive,” he explains.

The Mediterranean, one of the regions in the world with the largest number of endemic species, is the only sea in the world surrounded by three continents. The cradle of many civilizations, today is bordered by highly urbanized regions that concentrate more than 500 million inhabitants and 360 million tourists a year (27% of world tourism).

However, scientists note the “encouraging” effect of several protections, such as controlling hunting and fishing, protecting the habitat of the rarest species, controlling pollution sources, or even strengthening the workforce by reintroducing it.

Alpine ibex in September 2014 near Antrone Piane, Italy (AFP / Archive - OLIVIER MORIN)

Alpine ibex in September 2014 near Antrone Piane, Italy (AFP / Archive – OLIVIER MORIN)

Some species such as the Alpine ibex, the European vulture, the Dalmatian pelican and the turtle were saved by these measures.

But scientists note room for improvement in nature conservation efforts, and in particular call for better cooperation from all countries, condemning the “lack of data” on certain species, “because most of the data collected comes from the northern Mediterranean countries” *.

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