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Research Profile | Lívia Lang | Marine Science & Climate Change

"By assessing the current health status of gorgonian corals, this research hopes to improve the current knowledge about coralligeneous communities."
23rd September 2021
Lívia, one of our Master in Marine Science and Climate Change students, spoke to us about her research project, assessing the health status of gorgonians, focusing on four representative species that inhabit the Mediterranean Sea.

Describe your MSc project?

The main aim of this project was to assess the health status of gorgonians, focusing on four representative species that inhabit the Mediterranean Sea. The data was collected by conducting scuba diving surveys. Furthermore, it was aimed to present and evaluate a standardised method that can provide a baseline for future monitoring purposes.

What type of research has it involved and what skills have you learned?

The technique used in this project is a non-destructive photo-quadrat sampling method. Data was collected by scuba diving. Photographs of gorgonians were taken and were subsequently analysed with an image processing software. I learned that working underwater is more difficult than expected, but on the same time completely thrilling and exceptional.

Photo credit: Bianca Daniell

Were there any partners/stakeholders on your project?

I had the great opportunity to work together with the Gibraltar Sub-Aqua Association. I am very grateful for the support they provided me for all my data samplings underwater. Additionally, the University of Gibraltar gave me the opportunity to have the Government Department of Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change and Heritage as a stakeholder.

Why should the public know about this topic?

Gorgonians are among the most important habitat-forming species of benthic communities in the Mediterranean Sea. Through their three-dimensionality they create underwater forests, so called coral gardens. These coral gardens are comparable to earth forests in terms of complexity, biodiversity, stability and role of providing habitats for other animals. Therefore, their conservation is essential for maintaining the vast biodiversity that they conceal. Increasing understanding and awareness of their ecology and health condition can aid conservation and management issues.

What is the wider impact of your research?

Similar to coral reefs, healthy gorgonian gardens add value to the region, especially if the local community is aware of the ecological relevance of these animals. There are many ecosystem goods and services associated with gorgonians. Some of them are: food products, raw materials for medicine, regulation of ecosystem processes and functions, waste assimilation and cultural values for recreation. By assessing the current health status of gorgonian corals, this research hopes to improve the current knowledge about coralligeneous communities, provide useful baseline for future monitoring and call for attention of the importance of these animals.
  • MSc

    Master in Marine Science & Climate Change

    Designed and delivered by expert academics and scientists, this full or part-time interdisciplinary programme blends theoretical study with practical, field-based work. You will cover specialist subject areas and gain the skills required to tackle the complex issues associated with the sustainable development of marine ecosystems.[...]

    1 Year

    No Placement option

    Full Time

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