Helping seabeds with mimic algae
To replace the algae that are characteristic of the Mediterranean Sea with artificial algae in order to restore the ecosystems compromised by climate change is the aim of the “Will coralline algae reef mitigate climate change effects on associated fauna?” project that ENEA is carrying out with the University of Portsmouth and CNR.
Sixty artificial algae, mimics of coralline alga E. elongata, were 3D printed and planted in Santa Teresa Bay. Then, they were investigated by snorkeling, their chemical and physical parametres were monitored for 24h on the reef, their eligibility to colonization by sea organisms was checked by microscope sampling and analysis.
After 5 months, 42% of the algae survived and 61% of the established fauna, similar to that of the natural reef, confirmed the eligibility of algae to host a fauna similar to that hosted by natural algae.
Funded by the Royal Society, the project was presented at the LTER network congress with a by Matteo Nannini, ENEA author of a thesis.
“This coralline alga is considered as an ecosystem ‘engineer’. Besides being a promoter of biodiversity and a producer of clean ‘carbon’, the so-called blue carbon that is produced by photosynthesis process, it is extremely important for life and survival of many plant and animal organisms”, said Chiara Lombardi from ENEA Territorial and Production Systems Sustainability Department.
Federica Ragazzola from the University of Portsmouth concluded: “Coralline algae constituting a reef belong to a group of organisms that play an important role in ‘stopping’ pH reduction, by creating a micro-environment that could help some species to resist climate change”.