Effects of climate change on marine coastal ecosystems – A review to guide research and management

Ewan Trégarot, Juan Pablo D'Olivo, Andrea Zita Botelho, Andrea Cabrito, Gabriel O. Cardoso, Gema Casal, Cindy C. Cornet, Simon M. Cragg, A. Karima Degia, Stein Fredriksen, Elisa Furlan, Georg Heiss, Diego K. Kersting, Jean-Philippe Maréchal, Erik Meesters, Bethan C. O'Leary, Géraldine Pérez, Cristina Seijo-Núñez, Rémy Simide, Matthijs van der GeestSilvia De juan

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There is growing concern over climate models that project significant changes in the oceans, with consequences on marine biodiversity and human well-being. However, marine and coastal ecosystems respond differently to climate change-related stressors depending on the ecosystem, species composition and interactions, geomorphologic settings, and spatial distribution, but also on the presence of local stressors interacting cumulatively with climate change-related pressures. Our paper provides a comprehensive review of the current literature about the effects of climate-related pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems and how local stressors affect their resilience. Our work focuses on key marine and coastal ecosystems from three ecoregions: the Caribbean Sea (coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds), the Mediterranean Sea (the coral Cladocora caespitosa, maërl beds and seagrass beds) and the North-East Atlantic, which include kelp forests, maërl beds, salt marshes and seagrass beds. This review highlights the need for a more comprehensive, multi-species, and multi-stressors approach to predict better changes at the ecosystem and seascape levels of marine and coastal ecosystems. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to argue that addressing locally key manageable stressors common to multiple ecosystems, such as nutrient enrichment, coastal development, hydrologic disturbances, anchoring or sedimentation, will reduce the identified adverse effects of climate change. This knowledge is critical for practical conservation actions and coastal and marine spatial management at the ecoregion scale and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110394
Number of pages22
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date21 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Marine and coastal ecosystems
  • Climate change
  • Local stressors
  • Ecological thresholds
  • Conservation

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