Planning and management of scientific data for MPAs

Conveners S. Livreri (AMP Isola di Ustica), F. Foresta Martin (Laboratorio Scienze della Terra, Ustica)

Marine Protected Areas are places where habitats and species show their highest level of conservation; the management of such sensitive environments involves decisions that can only be taken if supported by proper analysis of the scientific data in possession; the time series and their analysis, and the study of trends appear as new trends in nature conservation. The multidisciplinary approach, with the biological and geological sciences who develop interesting synergies, enable authorities to tackle managerial issues management with a global vision; the network of Italian MPAs, now represents the majority of sea protection system in the Mediterranean, with advanced research perspectives related to the Marine Strategy of the European Union.










Citizen science opportunities for marine science

Conveners: Eleonora de Sabata (MedSharks), Simona Clò (MedSharks) 

The number of projects that engage the public in scientific research (i.e, citizen science) has dramatically increased in recent years globally. Citizen science can be defined as scientific research and monitoring projects for which members of the public collect, categorize, transcribe or analyze scientific data.

On clear and easy targets, volunteers can contribute valuable information with direct observations and generate high quality data. This enhances traditional academic research allowing, very cost- effectively, better spatial and temporal coverage over a study area. From reporting alien or rare species, range shifts or phenology, to the opportunity to access extreme environments such as caves or depths beyond the range of SCUBA gear, citizen scientists can help monitor the marine environment on a scale that was previously impossible.

There are unique challenges and great potential in using citizen science to advance knowledge in the marine environment. We welcome contributions that provide an overview of ongoing marine citizen science projects, demonstrating the variety of ways in which it can be an effective and rigorous method for advancing marine studies. This session will highlight successes, in quality and size of data generated by volunteers, and challenges learnt.

Environment accountability and ecosystem services

Conveners R. Chemello (University of Palermo); P. Franzese (University of Naples “La Parthenope”)

Awareness about the importance of evaluating, conserving and protecting natural capital is continuously increasing, both among scientists and policy makers. Over the past few decades many attempts have been made to highlight the link between the functioning of ecosystems and human activities. In this context, the concept of was conceived and employed to remark the vital support provided by nature to human economy and well-being. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans receive from natural environments. Valuing ecosystem services can help decision-makers to better manage natural environments so to ensure that they can continue providing valuable services in the future. According to this approach, the more work of biosphere is embodied in generating natural resources and ecosystem services the greater is their value.

This session would define the state-of-the-art about the researches on ecosystem services and environmental accountability made in the Italian marine protected areas.

Paleogeographic reconstructions and coastal monitoring using remote survey solutions (AUV/UAV)

Conveners: G. Scicchitano (Studio Geologi Associati T.S.T. – University of Catania); M. De Marchis (University UniKore of Enna)

Remote survey solutions, both marine (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and terrestrial (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), have been largely used in offshore and military industries. The technological development occurred in the last 5 years allowed these survey techniques to be used also for commercial and research purposes in offshore operations and in coastal and shallow water environments. Marine and aerial vehicles are able to cover autonomously wide areas and are usually equipped with several geophysical instruments to perform accurate surveys. Their use is particularly indicated for coastal monitoring and paleogeographic reconstructions, since they are very competitive systems in local area applications. Furthermore, they are very efficient when repetitive data collections or rapid responses are needed. They provide high spatial resolution morpho-bathymetric and morpho-topographic data at a customly-adjustable frequency and at an operational cost that is competitive in terms of costs and feasibility. AUVs and UAVs can provide new, multi-temporal insights in processes related to coastal changes with the potential of revolutionize our present knowledge. The precision of navigation systems allows them to fly very close to the ground or to the sea bed, surveying at an accuracy not available for classic systems. They can detect small changes in the morphology of the submerged and emerged surfaces, resulting particularly efficient for coastal analysis and monitoring.

This session is open to all contributions providing insights on remote survey solutions, either marine or terrestrial, focusing especially on coastal analysis and monitoring.

Maritime archaeology and sea level changes

Conveners: Sebastiano Tusa (Sovrintendenza del Mare), Roberto La Rocca (Sovrintendenza del Mare)

Interrelations between marine archaeology and sea level change are one the main topic concerning the study of ancient harbours and generally ancient settlements situated nearby the coasts. All over the world there is a wide and complex series of case studies in which the better understanding of ancient settlements development was achieved thank to a fruitful cooperation between archaeologists and geologists specialised in sea level change. It is important to remember that this is a field of research in which both data coming from archaeological chronological identification and those coming from sea level change contribute to the explanation of anthropic phenomena and to the explanation model achievement. Mediterranean is full of very interesting case studies of ancient settlements, towns or harbour sites that gave and are giving a great contribution to the development of our discipline, such as Baia, Neolithic settelements of the Levant, Lipari- Sottomonastero and Syracuse.

Relative sea-level changes in the coastal and underwater area based on geomorphological, sedimentological and biological markers

Conveners F. Antonioli (ENEA-UTMEA), L. Ferranti (University of Napoli), Fabrizio Pepe (University of Palermo)

The level of the sea does not remain constant. It changes at varying rates, geographically and over time. Understanding past sea-level change plays an important role in determining the underlying causes, and also permits the extrapolation of past sea levels to locations and epochs for which there are no instrumental data. In this session we aim to bring together direct observations made under the sea and in the coastal zone of ancient sea-level markers, finalized to assessment of past sea-levels and to unravelling the relative contribution of different processes (e. g. eustatic, tectonic and isostatic) involved in relative sea-level changes.

Paleo-sea-level indicators consist of various types, including sedimentary (such as beachrock), erosional (such as notches), ecological (such as accretionary bioherms constructed by coralline algae), and archaeological (such as fish tanks). Beside these conventional markers, we also encourage contributions from studies of flooded caves speleothems, which can only have grown when sea level was below the depth at which they are found. Some submerged stalagmites may result of particular interest when they exhibit one of more contiguous and paired layers of continental concretion and marine overgrowths. Stable areas, like Sardinia, Tuscany and S. Latium are key sites for test regional geophysical models of sea-level change, while subsiding and uplifting coasts provide means to investigate the post-LGM transgression in different tectonic contexts, and their possible sources.

We also seek contributions coming from direct observations and finalized to construction of future sea-level flooding scenario, a presently important geo-hazard issue because of the anthropic pressure along the Mediterranean coast.

Submarine and coastal morphodynamics

Conveners: M.A. Baldassarre (University “La Sapienza”, Rome); S. Devoto (University of Trieste); L. Mucerino (University of Genova); D. Piacentini (University of Urbino); G. Mastronuzzi (University of Bari)

The classic dichotomy forms-processes used in the geomorphological mapping is too often based to static concepts, especially when applied to marine and coastal areas, affected by fast dynamic events, sometimes paroxysmal.

In this session we would stimulate the debate on representation of active processes applied to coastal and underwater contexts, aimed to the implementation of classic geomorphological legends. We encourage contributions that tend to clarify the importance and the need of representing processes in the context of the Quaternary evolution, as well as examples from more recent or modern processes. We expect also contributions aimed to develop cartographic synthesis that - starting from the Pleistocene and Holocene evolutionary context - highlights both the dynamic trends and the distribution, magnitude and hazard of active processes, with particular reference to extreme meteomarine episodes.

As an example, spatial investigation and thematic mapping will be appreciated, on environments and themes, as follow: (ì) landforms in rapid change in rocky coast environment (cliffs, caves and other), (ìì) forms in rapid migration in mobile wave- and tide-dominated environments (beaches, spits, tidal flats, salt mashes, etc.), (iii) depositional and erosional processes in beach-dune system, and (iv) forms and dynamics related to episodic events affecting the coastal area.

Challenges in diving and cave diving: exploration and research

Conveners: L. Casati (Speleosub); S. Furlani (University of Trieste); S. Biolchi (University of Trieste)

People have had a consuming interest in going beneath the sea. But until a century ago, humans investigated the submerged environments from boats on its surface. In the last years, differrent disciplines devoted to the exploration of underwater environments, such as cave diving, wreck diving, ice diving and deep diving increased, thanks also to the improvement of technological aspects.

Nowaday, ROVs and AUVs provide very interesting possibilities in underwater researches, but to really see and explore what underwater environment is like inside, scuba diving is sometimes still the only way to explore the innermost and unaccessible sites, such as the submerged caves.

In this session, all contributions providing insights and news on diving and cave diving, deep diving and ice diving explorations and the related researches are welcomed, in particular regarding karst and coastal explorations.


Underwater habitat mapping

Conveners P.E. Orrú (University of Cagliari); S. Furlani (University of Trieste); M. Agate (University of Palermo)

Cartography is an essential tool to analyze the spatial aspects of natural environments. Maps in marine environments have in general the aim to assess geological or ecological features and locate vulnerable areas in need of conservation. With respect to environmental cartography on land, underwater habitat mapping proposes to cartographers evident operational difficulties, which are often solved integrating SCUBA scientific diving techniques, ROV inspections and geophysical surveys.

In this session, we welcome contributions that i) present synthesis charts highlighting the interaction between geomorphological and sedimentological characters of the seabed and the dynamics of biocoenosis; ii) describe approaches and results related to underwater habitat mapping, especially those focusing on the cartography of continental shelves. Embracing a large definition of ‘habitat’, we welcome contributions that focus on geological or ecological mapping, or both.

Palaeo-sea-level markers since the Last Glacial Maximum on the Mediterranean shelves: geomorphic, sedimentologic and stratigraphic evidence

Conveners: F.L. Chiocci (University “La Sapienza”, Rome), A. Sulli (University of Palermo), C. Monaco (University of Catania)

After the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ca. 21 cal ka B.P.) the sea level rose of 120-130 m in 20 ka, leading to the inundation of continental shelves. This process was characterized, from place to place, by highly variable patterns because of the morphology and of the contribution of local tectonics and glacio-hydro- isostatic effects, combined with the eustatic sea-level rise. Drowned barrier-lagoon systems, paleo-coastal cliffs, and depositional terraces in shelf and shelf-margin settings represent key geomorphological markers for the identification of ancient shorelines and deposits that accumulated in shallow water during the post- LGM marine transgression. The recognition of these markers and the determination of their age, therefore, have fundamental implications for precisely reconstructing the post-LGM relative sea-level rise and for determining the vertical tectonic mobility of continental shelves.

We welcome in this session contributions that use multi-disciplinary approaches, such as underwater imaging (i.e., multibeam swath bathymetry, sub-bottom profiling, high-resolution seismics, ROV, AUV) and geological methods (i.e., seafloor samples, cores, wells, etc.) to document palaeo-shorelines and coastal deposits developed during the post-LGM sea-level rise in the Mediterranean basins.

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