Exposure of wetlands important for nonbreeding waterbirds to sea-level rise in the Mediterranean

Verniest F., Galewski T., Boutron O., Dami L., du Rau P. D., Guelmami A., ...More

CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/cobi.14288
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Animal Behavior Abstracts, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Art Source, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Environment Index, Geobase, Greenfile, MEDLINE, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Sea-level rise (SLR) is expected to cause major changes to coastal wetlands, which are among the world's most vulnerable ecosystems and are critical for nonbreeding waterbirds. Because strategies for adaptation to SLR, such as nature-based solutions and designation of protected areas, can locally reduce the negative effects of coastal flooding under SLR on coastal wetlands, it is crucial to prioritize adaptation efforts, especially for wetlands of international importance for biodiversity. We assessed the exposure of coastal wetlands important for nonbreeding waterbirds to projected SLR along the Mediterranean coasts of 8 countries by modeling future coastal flooding under 7 scenarios of SLR by 2100 (from 44- to 161-cm rise) with a static inundation approach. Exposure to coastal flooding under future SLR was assessed for 938 Mediterranean coastal sites (<= 30 km from the coastline) where 145 species of nonbreeding birds were monitored as part of the International Waterbird Census and for which the monitoring area was delineated by a polygon (64.3% of the coastal sites monitored in the Mediterranean region). Thirty-four percent of sites were threatened by future SLR, even under the most optimistic scenarios. Protected study sites and study sites of international importance for waterbirds were, respectively, 1.5 and 2 times more exposed to SLR than the other sites under the most optimistic scenario. Accordingly, we advocate for the development of a prioritization scheme to be applied to these wetlands for the implementation of strategies for adaptation to SLR to anticipate the effects of coastal flooding. Our study provides major guidance for conservation planning under global change in several countries of the Mediterranean region.