Experimental phases are over!

Ellisolandia elongata ‘mimic’ project is over. Both natural and artificial reefs (‘mimic’) have been exposed to control and high pCO2 conditions (Fig.1).
Figure 1. Images of MedClimaLizers laboratory during the exposure of natural and ‘mimic’ reefs under control and high pCO2 conditions

After one month of exposure to high pCO2 conditions, part of the natural and all artificial reefs have been sampled (Fig.2); the system set-up has been modified for hosting only natural reefs exposed for 12 days to high pCO2 conditions and increased temperature (+2.1 °C)(Fig.3).

Figure 2. Sampling after the first experimental phase

Figure 3. E. elongata natural reefs exposed to control, high CO2 conditions and increased temperature

At the beginning and at the end of both experimental phases, ‘incubation chambers’ for measuring changes in photosynthetic and calcification activities of the E. elongata, under light and dark conditions, have been performed (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Incubation chambers (dark and light conditions); pH, temperature and O2 measurements before and after the exposure.

What next?
All samples will be transferred to Pavia University for studying the associated fauna of natural and ‘mimic’ reefs. Once sorted, some of the taxa will be send to expert taxonomists involved in the project.
E. elongata reef in Santa Teresa Bay will be sampled in February, April, and June for continuing the one-year study on natural reefs.
Chemical- physical monitoring of seawater in the site will be carried out until June with weekly sampling and Night labs (24h of seawater monitoring).

Preliminary results of the project will be presented to:
– International Exhibition and Conference for Aquaculture, algaculture, vertical farming and fishing industry (15-16 February, Pordenone, IT);
– 4th World Symposium on the Effects of Climate Changes on the World Oceans (4-8th June 2018, Washington DC, USA).


First ‘mimic’ sampling

After 90 days of exposure to natural conditions, Ellisolandia mimics have been collected (Fig.1) by using harmer and chisel. The resin came out easily, so the rocks have been properly cleaned in order to avoid the lost of any residuals of resin and silicon in the sea.

Figure: A) ‘mimic’ sampling, B) ‘mimic’ and it associated fauna in a sampling bag

After ‘mimics’ sampling, replicates of the natural reef have been collected in order to compare the fauna of both ‘reefs’. Also, chemical and physical parameters have been measured, according to the weekly monitoring plan.

Once in the lab and looking closer to the ‘mimic’, the colonization of the artificial substrates was impressive (Fig. 2). Flora and fauna fully covered the ‘mimics’ but also the resin used for fixing them to the rock.

Figure 2. A) ‘mimic’ after 90 days of exposure to natural conditions, B) organisms living on the artificial substrate.

Night lab- intense seawater monitoring and data collection

On Thursday 6th of July, MedClimaLizer team did the intense monitoring of physical chemical parameters – from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. – at the ‘mimics’ site in Santa Teresa Bay (La Spezia, I)(Figure 1 and 2).

Figure 1. First sampling at 6.00 a.m. in Santa Teresa Bay.

Every 6 hours, the team collected temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, T.A. and samples for carbonate chemistry measurements, with the aim to record daily variability of chemical-physical parameters.

Figure 2. Seawater monitoring and sample analyses during the Night-Lab.

Air temperature conditions in June, monitored via ENEA meteorological station, were approximately 5°C higher than the mean temperature recorded for the same month in the past few years. EXO2 probe revealed high seawater temperature at 4 m depth (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Seawater temperatures (°C) from 22nd June to 14th July 2017 collected with ExO2 probe.

The next night-lab will be do in one month time, at the beginning of August.

Citizens discovering Ellisolandia elongata ‘mimic’ project

On Saturday 10th June, SPEZIA OUTDOOR dedicated a day to explore sea jobs around Santa Teresa Bay (La Spezia, I). Twenty-two citizens, among young and adults, were guided to discover professionals working with and within the sea such as mussel farmers, researchers and sailors.

MedClimaLizers Lab presented the on going project on Ellisolandia elongata ‘mimics’ to citizens, currently running in Santa Teresa Bay.


Citizens explored the ‘reef’ by snorkeling under the guidance of researchers and, in the afternoon, young promising ‘scientists’ spend hours at the microscope to look at the fauna inhabiting E. elongata natural reef.

Mimics deployed for underwater test!

Today favorable weather and sea conditions finally allowed MedClimaLizers Team to start in field work activities.
E. elongata reef colonizing the south west external artificial barrier of Santa Teresa Bay has been fully explored, and three transect have been properly identified and marked (Fig. 1).

A                                                             B
Figure 1. Exploring natural reef site at Santa Teresa Bay (A) and underwater transect positioning (B)

Then, three ‘mimics’ have been inclosed in the epoxy resin (Fig. 2) and deployed (one ‘mimic’ per transect) for the underwater testing phase.

base e resina
Figure 2. ‘Mimics’ and epoxy resin before the deployment

The three ‘mimics’ will be properly tested in the next few days: a perturbation is expected to arrive in the Gulf of La Spezia, thus ‘mimics’ experience the intensity of wave action (approx. 150 cm height). If this testing phase is successful (no reef and/or frond lost), the whole reef (60 ‘mimics’) will be deployed, and the acclimatization period starts (approx 1 month).

Getting ready for being deployed!

The ‘mimics’ are finally completed: 70 reefs (Fig. 1 A) have been prepared and positioned on pec-bases and fixed with zip-tide (Fig. 1B).

A                                                             B

Figure 1. All ‘mimics’ (A) and details of ‘mimics’ and bases (B).

The ‘mimics’ will be deployed in the site (Fig. 2) in a couple of weeks time. Each reef will be fixed within the natural reef by using an epoxy resin.

Photo1 APhoto2 B

Figure 2. Gulf of La Spezia (A) and S. Teresa Bay (B). Deployment site: red dot.

Thank to a collaboration with CNR-ISMAR (Trieste and Bologna), the complete carbonate system will be monitored in the experimental site over 1 year, including also temperature, salinity, pH, light intensity (in continuum monitoring), turbidity, fluorescence and oxygen (twice a month). ENEA meteorological station and Li-cor (pCO2 air-monitoring) will also provide air data on the site.

Scuola di Mare S. Teresa (www.scuoladimaresantateresa) and Coop. di Mitilicoltori spezzini (www.mitilicoltori.it) will host the experiment, the underwater monitoring station acquiring chemical-physical parameters, and they will contribute in sharing information about the project to citizens and schools.

‘Mimics’ test is on!

Ellisolandia elongata artificial reefs (‘mimics’) are under testing phase and, after only 4 weeks of deployment, some vagile organisms are apparently enjoying the artificial fronds (Figure).

Figure: ‘mimics’ after 4 weeks of deployment in the field. Small crustaceans have been found in the fronds.

In the meantime, the productions of artificial fronds is continuing for creating 60 reefs, and tests on artificial materials (e.g. fronds and base of the reef) are currently on going for guaranteeing the suitability of the ‘mimics’ under experimental conditions – climate change conditions (ocean acidification and warming) expected for 2100.

Royal Society Travel Grant-Will coralline algae reef mitigate climate change effects on associated fauna?

MedClimaLizers Lab is starting a new project in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth (PI) and the National Research Council (CNR).

The project, funded by the Royal Society (RS travel grant), aims to study the mitigation effects of the biogenic coralline algae reef on its associated fauna under 2100 future climate change scenario (IPCC 2014).

In order to achieve this goal, MedClimaLizers team is working on designing (Fig. 1) and developing 3D (Fig.2, 3) artificial biogenic reefs (‘mimics’) simulating biogenic coralline algae reefs.


Figure 1. 3d reconstruction of a E. elongata reef (micro-tomography, ENEA)


Figure 2. E. elongata frond printing (3D- printer, ENEA)


Figure 3. E. elongata ‘mimics’ under construction

Artificial ‘mimic’ reefs has been now completed and deployed for the testing phase (Fig. 4). In the next few weeks we will test the suitability of the artificial environment for the marine fauna.

A                                                               B

Figure 4. E. elongata ‘mimic’ reef (A) in field (B)

Ellisolandia Project: un progetto di monitoraggio a lungo termine per studenti e cittadini

A partire dal periodo post-rivoluzione industriale, l’incremento della concentrazione dei gas serra in atmosfera e, in particolare, dell’anidride carbonica (CO2), a seguito delle attività di origine antropica rappresenta una delle principali cause del cambiamento climatico. Il Quinto Rapporto di Sintesi di Valutazione (AR5) dell’Intergovernamental Panel on Climate Change del 2013 mostra come, attraverso la presentazione di diversi possibili scenari, sia atteso un peggioramento delle attuali condizioni entro la fine del secolo, con aumento delle temperature (valori medi degli oceani: +1.5°C) e diminuzione di pH (range: 0.3-0.5 unità) del mare con impatti severi ed irreversibili sugli ecosistemi marini e terrestri.

La regione mediterranea è stata identificata come una delle aree più sensibili al cambiamento climatico e, data la varietà e complessità di processi che la caratterizzano, rappresenta uno straordinario ‘laboratorio naturale’. La biodiversità marina del Mar Mediterraneo costituisce il 7% della biodiversità marina del mondo e, in questo scenario di minacce dovuto al cambiamento climatico, è dunque necessario la messa in atto di strategie di gestione da parte dei governi ma, più che mai, c’è la necessità di creare e incrementare la diffusione di una coscienza comune. Sono lo studente, il cittadino di oggi che diventeranno il ‘gestore’ di domani, ed è quindi essenziale la presa di coscienza del valore del patrimonio naturale, attraverso la conoscenza dello stesso, dei rischi e delle minacce a cui è soggetto (es. il cambiamento climatico), perché si arrivi ad una tutela e protezione efficaci.

Perché la Citizen Science? La Scienza del Cittadino è uno dei mezzi per accrescere la conoscenza comune e la consapevolezza nel cittadino, nello studente, attraverso una collaborazione diretta con il ricercatore che trasmette e guida il cittadino alla comprensione della problematica attraverso la raccolta del dato sul campo (metodo didattico scientifico). La Citizen Science si fonda sulla comunicazione tra diversi interlocutori, il ricercatore, il cittadino/ lo studente, e il gestore (su scala locale, regionale, nazionale, europea ed anche mondiale) che insieme lavorano per un obiettivo comune.

Il Progetto. In questo contesto si inserisce il progetto ‘Ellisolandia Project’ che nasce nel 2011 grazie alla collaborazione tra ENEA, Università di Pisa, Università di Pavia, Associazione For-Mare e Parco Naturale Regionale di Porto Venere. Cos’è Ellisolandia? E’ una specie di alga corallinacea tra le più abbondanti del Mar Mediterraneo (Bressan & Babbini, 2003), vive nell’interfaccia aria-acqua dove forma delle ‘cornici o frange’ (reef) costituite dalle sue fronde erette (5-7 cm). Perchè le alghe corallinacee? Perché sono i biocostruttori più importanti del Mar Mediterraneo, hanno cioè l’abilità di creare delle architetture sommerse o semi sommerse rigide o semi rigide (a base di carbonato di calcio) che costituiscono macro e micro-habitat per altri organismi (rifugio, nursery, erbivoria e predazione). Sono ubiquitarie e sono considerate ottimi bioindicatori poiché, in base alle loro risposte morfologiche e fisiologiche (crescita, sviluppo), forniscono informazioni sull’ambiente in cui vivono.

Tutti i dettagli questo progetto sono consultabili su questo blog nella pagina dedicata ‘Citizen  Science’.