Research Topic

Biogenic Reefs at Risk: Facing Globally Widespread Local Threats and Their Interaction with Climate Change

About this Research Topic

Marine bioconstructions include a variety of fragile three-dimensional habitats, from shallow water coral reefs to mesophotic coralligenous concretions, hosting rich and diverse benthic assemblages. Both tropical and temperate biogenic reefs are increasingly threatened by multiple stressors worldwide. Nowadays, many studies focus on possible ecological effects of global climate change, which has been linked with the onset of mass coral bleaching and to Mediterranean mass mortality events. However, we are losing sight of the impacts on biogenic reefs associated with more `localized' disturbances, such as decline in water quality, overexploitation of resources, spread of non-indigenous species, tourism and urbanization. Such stressors are in their own right increasing in intensity and regularity on a global scale, and will therefore undoubtedly be playing a pivotal role in the health and functionality of biogenic reefs, especially with regard to disease outbreaks, resilience to ecological shifts, loss of ecological goods and services. Information on many of these local, but globally spread, threats to biogenic reefs is still limited. Therefore, it is urgent to draw the most complete picture on these impacts including the multiple stressors acting in synergy with climate change effects. A widespread and standardized approach to analyzing the health of biogenic reefs in relation to such local disturbances could help mitigate their effects and find solutions. Well managed MPAs should provide reference sites and community-based monitoring should be considered as a useful tool in this context. In the same line, restoration actions aimed at recovering degraded biogenic reefs affected by local threats can help to increase their resilience to climatic disturbances.

This Research Topic, focusing on threats to biogenic reefs health due to largely widespread human activities, proposes a cross-cutting topic of interest to experts in reef biology and ecology, human impacts and marine pollution, microbiology, chemical and biological monitoring, sedimentology, oceanography, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning, restoration and citizen science. Contributions can come from all over the world. Readership will include scientists, managers, conservationists and many other stakeholders.

We welcome contributions that address or explore:
· Documented biological and ecological responses of biogenic reef communities to widespread human impacts;
· Manipulative experiments simulating effects of ecological shifts due to disturbances commonly affecting biogenic reefs;
· Modelling approaches that can provide insights into future trends;
· Ecological investigations that provide new insights into mechanisms and processes that underlie resistance and resilience of biogenic reefs to both pulse and press disturbances;
· Studies on possible interactions between local human disturbances and climate change in biogenic reefs ecology and conservation;
· Conservation strategies being currently employed or future plans to manage and mitigate such effects (transboundary policies, reef restorations, etc.);
· Community-based monitoring and stakeholders involved in large scale ecosystem-based management of biogenic reefs.

Local studies will be considered only if they concern widespread human impacts and their results can be relevant or scaled-up to wide geographic areas.

Image courtesy of the “Portofino Divers” dive center.


Keywords: Bioconstruction, Human impact, Ecological disturbance, Environmental health assessment, Marine conservation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Marine bioconstructions include a variety of fragile three-dimensional habitats, from shallow water coral reefs to mesophotic coralligenous concretions, hosting rich and diverse benthic assemblages. Both tropical and temperate biogenic reefs are increasingly threatened by multiple stressors worldwide. Nowadays, many studies focus on possible ecological effects of global climate change, which has been linked with the onset of mass coral bleaching and to Mediterranean mass mortality events. However, we are losing sight of the impacts on biogenic reefs associated with more `localized' disturbances, such as decline in water quality, overexploitation of resources, spread of non-indigenous species, tourism and urbanization. Such stressors are in their own right increasing in intensity and regularity on a global scale, and will therefore undoubtedly be playing a pivotal role in the health and functionality of biogenic reefs, especially with regard to disease outbreaks, resilience to ecological shifts, loss of ecological goods and services. Information on many of these local, but globally spread, threats to biogenic reefs is still limited. Therefore, it is urgent to draw the most complete picture on these impacts including the multiple stressors acting in synergy with climate change effects. A widespread and standardized approach to analyzing the health of biogenic reefs in relation to such local disturbances could help mitigate their effects and find solutions. Well managed MPAs should provide reference sites and community-based monitoring should be considered as a useful tool in this context. In the same line, restoration actions aimed at recovering degraded biogenic reefs affected by local threats can help to increase their resilience to climatic disturbances.

This Research Topic, focusing on threats to biogenic reefs health due to largely widespread human activities, proposes a cross-cutting topic of interest to experts in reef biology and ecology, human impacts and marine pollution, microbiology, chemical and biological monitoring, sedimentology, oceanography, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning, restoration and citizen science. Contributions can come from all over the world. Readership will include scientists, managers, conservationists and many other stakeholders.

We welcome contributions that address or explore:
· Documented biological and ecological responses of biogenic reef communities to widespread human impacts;
· Manipulative experiments simulating effects of ecological shifts due to disturbances commonly affecting biogenic reefs;
· Modelling approaches that can provide insights into future trends;
· Ecological investigations that provide new insights into mechanisms and processes that underlie resistance and resilience of biogenic reefs to both pulse and press disturbances;
· Studies on possible interactions between local human disturbances and climate change in biogenic reefs ecology and conservation;
· Conservation strategies being currently employed or future plans to manage and mitigate such effects (transboundary policies, reef restorations, etc.);
· Community-based monitoring and stakeholders involved in large scale ecosystem-based management of biogenic reefs.

Local studies will be considered only if they concern widespread human impacts and their results can be relevant or scaled-up to wide geographic areas.

Image courtesy of the “Portofino Divers” dive center.


Keywords: Bioconstruction, Human impact, Ecological disturbance, Environmental health assessment, Marine conservation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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