Networking to preserve Adriatic coastal dune habitats

The LIFE Programme recognises the importance of "networking" and supports activities that develop relationships between individual projects that have elements in common, such as themes, methodologies, objectives, or categories of stakeholders. In this perspective, LIFE REDUNE and LIFE CALLIOPE (Coastal dune habitats, sublittoral sandbanks marine reefs: conservation, protection, and threats mitigation. Https://www.facebook.com/LifeCalliope.it), both dedicated to the protection of the coastal environment, have started at the end of December 2020 a collaboration to share results and experiences.

Both projects operate in territories where there are still some areas with dune ecosystems that are however seriously threatened by tourism activities, unsustainable fishing, alteration of their morphology and vegetation removal actions.

These problems are partly addressed by the two projects with common approaches: the reconstruction of the dune cordon, the requalification of the habitats with the transplanting of new plants produced in greenhouses and the fight against invasive species, the involvement of local authorities for an eco-sustainable territorial development and the reduction of anthropic pressure also through the environmental education of tourists and residents.

Focusing on two specific thematic aspects, LIFE REDUNE and LIFE CALLIOPE have organised two joint events to exchange information, benefit from new technical approaches and achieve greater capacity to operate at national and European level.

The webinar "Visiting nurseries: good practices from LIFE REDUNE and LIFE CALLIOPE" was dedicated to sharing knowledge on propagation techniques for mobile dune species; this webinar was held on Thursday 29 October 2020. An unexpected result of the meeting was the decision to jointly draft a "Manual of propagation of dune species" between the two projects, which aims to document the experience of nursery production of numerous species of the Adriatic coastal dune habitats, providing technical identification and cultivation sheets for each species.

The webinar "Reconstruction and monitoring of mobile dunes: good practices of LIFE REDUNE and LIFE CALLIOPE" led to the sharing of knowledge and good practices on techniques for reconstruction and rehabilitation of mobile dunes. The collaboration was also extended to the Interreg Italy-Croatia project CASCADE (CoAStal and marine waters integrated monitoring systems for ecosystems proteCtion AnD managemEnt, www.italy-croatia.eu/web/cascade) for issues related to remote monitoring of ecosystems in the project sites. This webinar was held on Friday 4 December 2020 and was live-streamed simultaneously on the Facebook pages of Life REDUNE and Life CALLIOPE.

The two webinars and subsequent contacts made it possible to establish relationships and create synergies between universities, nurseries, experts and European projects on the topic. In addition, the events started the process of participation and involvement of stakeholders who participated in the webinars such as ARSARP Molise and the associations Ambiente Basso Molise, Legambiente Abruzzo and Legambiente Molise.


Oenothera or not Oenothera? Managing sandy coastal systems is the secret

Invasive alien plant species are considered a major cause of global biodiversity loss, especially when interacting with other global drivers of change such as habitat loss and climate change.

Predicting the likelihood of establishment and invasion of alien species, identifying the factors responsible for spatiotemporal patterns of invasion and quantifying their relative importance are essential elements for risk assessment and adaptive management of invasive alien plant species.

The work carried out by the University Cà Foscari, REDUNE partner, aimed at predicting the probability of establishment and successful invasion of Oenothera stucchii Soldano, a neophyte invasive species belonging to the Oenothera subsection. Oenothera, in xerophilous grasslands of grey dunes.

Three sampling sites on the Venetian coast were chosen for this study: Vallevecchia, the Laguna del Mort and the Cavallino Peninsula. At the sampling sites, xerophilous grey dune grasslands develop inland of the shifting dunes and occupy the portion of the coastal zone ranging from approximately 20 to 80 m from the sea.

Based on fine-scale field data, the authors described the mechanisms determining the spatial patterns of occurrence and abundance of O. stucchii in coastal dunes and provided a quantitative estimate of the most susceptible areas of grey dune habitats prone to invasion by O. stucchii, combining proximity to beach accesses (less than 50 m), low resident vegetation cover (<40%), high number of annual species (10 species) and low embryonic and mobile dune crests (<5.5 m).

These results provide useful suggestions that can be used to plan appropriate measures to prevent the establishment and spread of O. stucchii in sandy coastal systems. These should include the regulation of beach accesses, which should be planned at a distance of at least 200 m from each other, to secure areas sufficiently distant from beach accesses with a high probability of O. stucchii absence, and the closure of unauthorised paths that jeopardise the regulation of beach access. Measures limiting human trampling in dune systems need to be supported by stakeholders, but have proven effective in allowing the plant community to recover even in a short period of time. The resilience of xerophilous grasslands in the grey dunes could also be improved by filling vegetation gaps with new plantations of native perennial species to increase biotic resilience. Perennial species permanently occupy the site and form stable communities over time, thus reducing niche vacancies.

This developed model can also be applied to closely related congeners species included in the subsection. Oenothera, which shares similar biological and ecological traits.

 

 

References:

Using fine-scale field data modelling for planning the management of invasions of Oenothera stucchii in coastal dune systems.

Gabriella Buffa, Carlo Gaetan , Stefano Piccoli , Silvia Del Vecchio , Edy Fantinato

Ecological Indicators 125 (2021) 107564