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Linking ecosystem pressures and marine macroinvertebrate ecosystem services in mangroves and seagrasses

Alice Resende Santos*, Marta Bento, Stefanie Broszeit, José Paula, Alexandra Marçal Correia

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: African coastal ecosystems encompass high biodiversity that provides crucial ecosystem services (ES). However, the supply of these ES is threatened due to ecosystem degradation, which threatens human well-being and livelihoods. This study investigated the link between pressures and the ES provided by marine macroinvertebrates (MMI) in mangroves and seagrasses. We assessed ecosystem condition (marine protected areas, MPAs), pressures, namely climate change (sea surface temperature and sea level), land-use and land-cover changes, and overexploitation (mangrove deforestation and overfishing), and core MMI ES (provisioning, regulation, cultural). Our results revealed a low ratio of MPAs compared to the Aichi target 11, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive conservation strategy. Sea temperature and level showed an increasing trend, indicating the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to climate change. The decline in mangrove forest cover highlights the need to mitigate adverse effects of land-use change. The increasing number of artisanal fishery licenses suggests an increased pressure on MMI, which can have severe consequences for local communities. MMI food production, particularly shrimp, and recreational fishing increased in the last two decades. Regulation services, and cultural services related to research and education, varied through time due to the limited availability of data. This information was used to develop an exploratory conceptual model illustrating the complex relationships among pressures, condition, MMI ES, and management goals for the sustainable use of marine resources and their connection with food security. Our findings underscore the importance of preserving MMI populations and habitats while addressing knowledge gaps to enhance the resilience of coastal ecosystems.