‘Mimic’ project on National Geographic Italia

‘Mimic’ project and the importance of Ellisolandia elongata reef under climate change pressures – today on National Geographic web-magazine Italia


‘Mimic’ project on stage!

‘Mimic’ project has been presented at Aqua Farm Fair (http://www.aquafarm.show/en/gallery/#edition-2018) in Pordenone as ‘invited talk’ (Fig. 1) and to Lter XII Annual Assembly and Scientific Meeting in Bolzano (http://www.lter-europe.net/events/lter-italy-ann-meeting-2018) as smart talk.

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Figure 1. Invited talk at AquaFarm in Pordenone

Smart talk of ‘Mimic project’ won the first price for the best video (Fig. 1), thanks to Matteo Nannini who created and presented it in Bolzano!

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Figure 2. Two photograms of Matteo’s video, soon available on ENEA’s official web site.

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.

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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.