Anthropogenic disturbances and conservation of coastal environments in an oceanic archipelago
Juan D. Delgado
Área de Ecología, Departamento de Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad Pablo de Olavide. E-41013, Sevilla, Spain.
Oceanic islands are biotically fragile environments prone to suffer irreversible anthropogenic disturbances. Humans are pervading ecological force prone to occupy coastal environments of oceanic islands. We review the current situation and future scenarios on a paradigmatic oceanic archipelago (Canary Islands, NE Atlantic Ocean), as a case study of the human footprint on marine coastal communities. The role of humans is pivotal, as we directly affect patterns of coastal occupation, pollution, invasive species or fishing. Here we synthesize the information that describes the current situation of the coastal ecosystems of the Canary Islands, indicating the main sources of environmental conflict and impacts. In addition, we review the state of the most relevant or threatened habitats and the taxonomic groups as actors of the main disturbances in the coastal ecosystems of the archipelago. We propose future general scenarios about expected changes, and foreseeable interactions that could occur to transform the coastal environments of the islands, in order to indicate areas susceptible to improvement for the conservation of these ecosystems. Integrative coastal actions are urgently needed for sustainable future scenarios to oppose deleterious trends such as tropicalization, fisheries collapse and extensive coastal degradation due to urbanization and infrastructure construction.