Collaboration between the Scientific Centre of Monaco (CSM), the Marine Environment Research Centre (CRAM, La Spezia) and ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment).
The CSM and the CRAM pooled their efforts for a study of benthic marine fauna in the region of the La Spezia Gulf and the Portovenere Islands of the Italian Riviera. Protected by a regional park, this zone constitutes a marine coast very rich in biodiversity with numerous Mediterranean sea fans and corals. The collaboration aims at finding out more about the type of food consumed by the corals and sea fans in the region in order to better understand their geographic distribution and so as to better comprehend their resistance to climate change. The corals feed in two ways: the capture of zooplanktonic prey (heterotrophy) and symbiosis, thanks to the presence of micro-algae in their tissues carrying out photosynthesis and transferring nutrients to the animal (autotrophy). The sea fans are, however, solely heterotrophs. The feeding method – in terms of quality and quantity – is a major parameter in the resistance by these organisms against environmental stress, thus the importance of this study for the management of the environment.
At present it is difficult to know which feeding method is predominant and whether the change of seasons is the source of changes in method. As such, the carbon and nitrogen composition of the corals and the sea fans, as well as of the particles from the water column or from the sediment, will be analysed by mass spectrometry throughout the four seasons. This collaboration project puts into play both the CSM’s knowledge of the corals and the CRAM’s expertise in the natural environment.
For more information:
Visit the website: www.centrescientifique.mc
Or contact Dr Christine Ferrier-Pagès by telephone: +377 92 16 79 82
From left to right, from bottom to top: Drs. S. Reynaud, A. Peirano, G. Cerrati, R. Delfanti - CRAM Director, C. Rottier, A. Negri, A. Bordone, S. Sgorbini, S. Cocito, M. Abbate and C. Ferrier-Pagès.