Nowhere safe? Exploring the influence of urbanization across mainland and insular seashores in continental Portugal and the Azorean Archipelago

Mar Pollut Bull. 2017 Jan 30;114(2):644-655. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.10.045. Epub 2016 Oct 18.


Differences in the structure and functioning of intensively urbanized vs. less human-affected systems are reported, but such evidence is available for a much larger extent in terrestrial than in marine systems. We examined the hypotheses that (i) urbanization was associated to different patterns of variation of intertidal assemblages between urban and extra-urban environments; (ii) such patterns were consistent across mainland and insular systems, spatial scales from 10scm to 100skm, and a three months period. Several trends emerged: (i) a more homogeneous distribution of most algal groups in the urban compared to the extra-urban condition and the opposite pattern of most invertebrates; (ii) smaller/larger variances of most organisms where these were, respectively, less/more abundant; (iii) largest variability of most response variables at small scale; (iv) no facilitation of invasive species by urbanization and larger cover of canopy-forming algae in the insular extra-urban condition. Present findings confirm the acknowledged notion that future management strategies will require to include representative assemblages and their relevant scales of variation associated to urbanization gradients on both the mainland and the islands.

Keywords: Algal and invertebrate assemblages; Human impacts; Rocky intertidal; Spatio-temporal scales; Variance components.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azores
  • Chlorophyta / growth & development
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Invertebrates / growth & development
  • Portugal
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Urbanization*