The impact of climate change on Mediterranean intertidal communities: losses in coastal ecosystem integrity and services.
As has been shown for other ecosystems, the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change on Mediterranean intertidal habitats are highly variable in space and time. We conducted field and laboratory measurements of cellular, ecophysiological and behavioural responses of selected intertidal invertebrates (mussels, gastropods and sponges) and completed a literature review to determine what is known of socio-economic consequences of these biological changes. Results suggest significant gaps in our knowledge that may impede a complete understanding of likely impacts (physical, biological and socio-economic) and that sufficient data for such an analysis are available only for mussels. Application of ecological models for native mussels Mytilaster minimus and invasive Brachidontes pharaonis bivalves indicates that the current distribution of these species is linked to the availability of food and local temperature. Choosing Israel as a case study, the study focused on the identification of ecosystem services and goods provided by the Mediterranean rocky intertidal and on the assessment of conservation approaches. Intertidal systems were poorly represented in the socio-economic literature, and there was low awareness of the value of these ecosystems among stakeholders. Subsequently, conservation efforts for intertidal communities were minimal. While climate change will very likely continue to impact these systems, our predictive capacity for the extent and locations of such impacts, and of any derived socio-economic consequences, remains limited.