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Keywords:

  • coastal lagoon;
  • ecological assessment;
  • ecotoxicology;
  • eutrophication;
  • indicator;
  • management;
  • Mediterranean Sea;
  • observatory

ABSTRACT

  1. Abiotic and biotic variables of coastal lagoons are highly heterogeneous in both space and time, and this heterogeneity complicates the assessment of their ecological status. These variables are essential to the monitoring and preservation of these fragile ecotones and the resources and services they sustain.
  2. An integrative approach for evaluating the ecological status of coastal lagoons, based on field investigations of the key parameters driving their functioning and a set of selected ecological indicators matching lagoon management information needs for societal benefits, is investigated. Consistency in lagoon status evaluation from multiple and different variables was estimated, through a case study comparing three adjacent yet contrasting French Mediterranean shallow water lagoons.
  3. French Mediterranean shallow water lagoons are used to demonstrate the potential of such an approach and to underline the need for a multi-faceted framework, for correctly evaluating lagoon status, and underlining the need for high-frequency lagoon monitoring to avoid errors in status assessment and resulting management plans.
  4. Based on the results, a continuous monitoring system is proposed that would record high frequency biotic and abiotic data in the lagoons. The use of such an ad hoc observatory system, based on appropriate diagnostic indicators and risk estimators would simplify interactions between scientists and managers and would improve the efficiency of their analyses.
  5. A lagoon management plan based on a holistic approach is proposed to help scientists and local managers to reach a consensus about the set of ecological indicators to monitor in the lagoons needed to assess their ‘global health’ status in accordance with both conservation and/or societal needs.

    Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.