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The Mediterranean at Risk
In the news: As we celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, we are again reminded of the many stressors acting on this vital global resource. One of the latest reports focuses on the Mediterranean Sea, an incredibly diverse resource in increasing peril. A recent report by scientists at Tel Aviv University highlights just one of the many on-going threats to the Mediterranean: invasive species. With at least 750 known invaders already present, the Mediterranean’s marine habitats are being transformed as invasive species replace native organisms.
The Mediterranean Sea as a Teaching Tool:
The Mediterranean Sea offers many opportunities to learn about the status and complexity of marine ecosystems. While coastal areas of many of the world’s ocean suffer from similar concerns, arguably no other marine resource has the combination of demands and stresses that confront the Mediterranean, providing rich opportunities to engage students in quantitative and qualitative exercises, as well as discussion and debate around its many unique features. For example:
- With its narrow connection to the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean retains water and pollutants for long periods.
- It is biologically diverse, with more than 17,000 species, 20-30% of which are endemic. Although it holds less than 1% of the volume of the world’s oceans, 18% of the world’s known aquatic species can be found in the Mediterranean.
- With more than 400 million residents in the Mediterranean basin and a variety of demands placed on its waters, the Mediterranean Sea offers students a look at the challenges and potential solutions facing those charged with protecting its quality.
- Interacting stress agents including pollutant inputs, invasive species climate change, overfishing, and others are combining to threaten the Mediterranean ecosystem in complex ways.
Our approach in Science and the Global Environment:
Our textbook includes a number of case studies focused on water resources, including ocean acidification and the Mediterranean Sea. Because the Mediterranean poses so many challenges, we take an unusual approach in our case study, focusing on a diversity of environmental concepts as they relate to a single keystone species, Atlantic bluefin tuna.
We employ a number of pedagogies in the provided exercises, ranging from self-directed research into the impacts of invasive species and climate change, to in-depth explorations into the various sources of mercury in the Mediterranean basin, to quantitative and statistical analyses of mercury data in Mediterranean fish, to geospatial analyses of biodiversity hotspots using the Mission Blue data in Google Earth. We believe that this case study approach engages students in current issues, using their passion for the environment to catalyze learning.
For limited time, you can download the “Global Water Resources” chapter from Science and the Global Environment below:
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