Francesca Rossi
Rutger De Wit
HEALSEA: Indicators of resilience to protect the health status of seagrass meadows: From ecological theory to conservation
Seagrasses are key ecosystem engineers that create structurally complex habitats in coastal areas, thereby increasing biodiversity and providing important ecosystem services. Their documented and worldwide loss calls for effective conservation measures. Our capacity to succeed in this task largely depends on our aptitude to anticipate their decline. Ecological theory and some evidence suggest that seagrass loss is often sudden, and cannot be predicted without exactly knowing the trajectory of their response to increasing stress or their behaviour before and after decline. Ecological theory also proposes that systems close to decline become more stochastic and slow in recovering from disturbance, a phenomenon known as critical slowing down. Such theory can be applied to complex ecological systems, providing appropriate experimental tests on suitable signals of this phenomenon, called indicators of resilience. This knowledge could be used to improve the evaluation of seagrass health status and included into monitoring programs that can be implemented by practitioners. This proposal aims at testing and proposing to practitioners, through a participative approach, the use of indicators of resilience to assess the health status of seagrasses (Zostera noltei, H.) in the lagoons of the Gulf of Aigues Mortes and the Biguglia lagoon (Corsica). Specifically, the post-doctoral fellow will (1) test the recovery capacity of seagrasses across a gradient of stress and (2) will implement, in collaboration with practitioners, a protocol of action to be used for seagrass monitoring.
Projet Post-Doctoral
OHM(s) concerné(s)
  • Littoral Méditerranéen
Biologie, Botanique, Écologie


My work is centered on benthic communities to understand their response to environmental change and determining the consequences on ecosystem functioning. At present my work is focused on seagrass ecosystems. I mainly do experimental field and laboratory studies and I often use stable isotopes at their natural concentrations and as tracers to get inside the trophic relationships between organisms that may modify carbon and nutrient cycling.