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Evaluating the potential of different benthic indicators to assess sandy beach ecological integrity: subsides for management and monitoring practices

Grant number: 18/22036-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2019
Effective date (End): June 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Alexander Turra
Grantee:Hélio Hermínio Checon
Home Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:15/03804-9 - Environmental governance of macrometropolis paulista in face of climate variability, AP.PFPMCG.TEM

Abstract

Marine ecosystems are under constant pressure from anthropic activities. Sandy beaches are among the most threatened coastal ecosystem, despite the social, cultural and economic services provided by them. Conversely, sandy beaches studies with conservation focus are scarce, which jeopardizes the effectiveness of monitoring and management plans in this ecosystem. This scenario creates a need for studies that can support strategies to evaluate and monitor the ecological integrity of these ecosystems. Many different approaches are developed to evaluate the ecological integrity via indicator taxa or benthic indices, based on different ecological scales (e.g. organisms, population, assemblages). Benthic indices, for instance, are widely applied in prominent marine monitoring programs in other coastal ecosystems, but its effectiveness in sandy beaches monitoring, and along the Brazilian Coast, is overlooked. The aim of this project is to characterize the ecological integrity of several sandy beaches along the Northern Coast of São Paulo using different indicator approaches (benthic indices and indicator taxa). We will evaluate and compare the performance of each approach by establishing a relationship between indicator taxa and benthic indices with environmental variables and disturbance proxies. The results established by the performance evaluation and comparison between different metrics can indicate which can be better applied by management programs, giving subsides for the establishment of cost-effective monitoring programs to evaluate ecological integrity and support conservation of sandy beaches along the Brazilian Coast