Charles-François Boudouresque, Patrick Astruch, Serena André, Bruno Belloni, Aurélie Blanfuné, Éric Charbonnel, Adrien Cheminée, Jean-Michel Cottalorda, Renaud Dupuy de la Grandrive, Michel Marengo, Briac Monnier, Gérard Pergent, Christine Pergent-Martini, Michèle Perret-Boudouresque , Sandrine Ruitton, Isabelle Taupier-Letage and Thierry Thibaut
The warming trend of the Mediterranean Sea is a long-term process. It has resulted in a northwards and westwards range expansion and abundance increase of thermophilic species, both native and non-indigenous, and in a shrinking of the range of cold-affinity species. Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are relatively short-term extreme episodes that are responsible for spectacular mortality events in some species and have been extensively reported in the literature. In contrast, the species that benefit from MHWs (the ‘winners’) have been much less studied. A record-breaking MHW occurred in 2022 in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. We focus on three ‘winner’ species, the thermophilic green macroalgae Penicillus capitatus and Microdictyon umbilicatum and the endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica. Penicillus capitatus, which is mainly present in the area as an inconspicuous turf of entangled filaments (espera stage), produced the erect paintbrush-like stage where sexual reproduction takes place. Microdictyon umbilicatum, usually uncommon, bloomed to the point of clogging fishing nets. Finally, a mass flowering of P. oceanica occurred in late August–September, followed the following year (April–May 2023) by the extensive production and dissemination of fruits and seeds. Both processes, the long-term warming trend and one-off heatwaves, both ‘losers’ and ‘winners’, shape the change in structure and functioning of Mediterranean ecosystems.
flowering; marine heatwaves; Mediterranean; Microdictyon umbilicatum; Penicillus capitatus; Posidonia oceanica