Living Reference Work Entry

Marine Animal Forests

pp 1-42

Date: Latest Version

Ecosystem Functions and Services of the Marine Animal Forests

  • Chiara PaoliAffiliated withDISTAV (Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell‘Ambiente e della Vita), University of Genoa Email author 
  • , Monica MontefalconeAffiliated withDISTAV (Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell‘Ambiente e della Vita), University of Genoa
  • , Carla MorriAffiliated withDISTAV (Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell‘Ambiente e della Vita), University of Genoa
  • , Paolo VassalloAffiliated withDISTAV (Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell‘Ambiente e della Vita), University of Genoa
  • , Carlo Nike BianchiAffiliated withDISTAV (Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell‘Ambiente e della Vita), University of Genoa

Abstract

Marine animal forests supply several services based on a multiplicity of ecological functions, thus generating a set of benefits to humans. Services have been studied in coral reefs, whereas less is known about the role of other animal forests. Actual estimates of economic value of the ecosystem services provided by reefs highlighted their ability to generate benefits for humankind, but these approaches cannot be considered complete. The fulfillment of sectorial valuations, adopting an anthropocentric approach, hindered an effective quantification, even economic, of total value and consequently of potential damages imposed to habitats. The adoption of a system view, based on the understanding of the entire habitat functioning generating services, is then required. Only from the assessment of functions, and then of natural capital disposition together with its present exploitation level, managers and scientists will be able to perform long-run plans for conservation. System methodologies, and in particular emergy analysis, can fulfill these needs by reversing the traditional approach to the valuation issue. System methodologies adopt a donor-side approach, which evaluates the ecosystem services as the amount of resources invested by nature independently from the presence of users and the value that humans assign to a service. The fulfillment of donor-side evaluations, free from subjective preferences, can be crucial for those ecosystem functions that are essential for the existence of marine animal forests but are not perceived by humans or scarcely evaluated by the market.

Keywords

Well-being Coral reefs Natural capital Valuation Coralligenous Vermetid reefs Ecological value