Coastal / ocean acidification


Ocean acidification resulting from the exponential increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from anthropogenic activities is impacting marine communities and economies dependent on them. Furthermore, in coastal areas there are other physicochemical and biological processes acting at shorter time scales that can also increase CO2 concentration in seawater far exceeding end of century projections for the open ocean. The consequences of the ongoing influx of CO2 into seawater induces multiple changes in the seawater carbonate system, and is a major threat to many species and specially calcifying taxa.

My research addresses the impacts of coastal and ocean acidification in marine ecosystems and finds potential solutions. Thus, I study the influence that marine macrophytes exert in seawater carbonate chemistry and how this may translate to increased ecosystem resilience. In particular, I seek to understand if seagrass meadows and macroalgal beds (including kelp forests and seaweed farms) can function as chemical refugia for organisms affected by seawater acidification and serve as natural tools to help to mitigate its effects in coastal areas.

elevant publications:

Ricart et al. (2022). Commentary: Overstated potential for seagrass meadows to mitigate coastal ocean acidificationFrontiers in Marine Science 9:884857.

Ricart et al.  (2021). Coast-wide evidence of low pH amelioration by seagrass ecosystems. Global Change Biology 27, 2580-2591.

Ricart et al.  (2021). Seagrass driven changes in carbonate chemistry enhance oyster shell growth. Oecologia 196, 565-576.


Seascape ecology / community ecology

Habitats commonly occur as more or less interconnected patches constituting spatial heterogeneous mosaics. Connectivity and interactions among habitats can determine their functioning. Therefore, ecological patterns and processes within these habitats, and among them, are modulated by the spatial structure of the entire mosaic. Landscape ecology is aimed at understanding how the landscape composition (patch types and sizes) and the landscape configuration (how those patches are arranged spatially) of habitats in a mosaic influence the functioning of the overall system and its individual components (the patches and the species moving across), at a panoply of spatial scales. The discipline of seascape ecology applies landscape ecology concepts to the marine environment.

My PhD work focused in advancing the conceptual framework of this novel discipline. I looked at how seagrass ecosystems spatial configuration and seagrass habitat fragmentation and patchiness affected main ecological processes within the habitat: 1) Nutrient transfer and trophic interactions; 2) Blue carbon storage and burial in seagrass sediments; 3) Community structure effects on associated faunal assemblages. 

This approach, as well as the discipline of community ecology, are largely present in my current research, especially on the study of species interactions and habitat interactions at multiple scales and its effects in ecosystems resilience.


Relevant publications:

Ricart et al. (2018) Multilevel assessments reveal spatially scaled landscape patterns driving coastal fish assemblages. Marine Environmental Research 140, 210-220.

Ricart et al. (2017) Landscape configuration modulates carbon storage in seagrass sediments. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 185 69-76.

Ricart et al. (2015) Effects of landscape configuration on the exchange of materials in seagrass ecosystems. Marine Ecology Progress Series 532:89–100.


Blue carbon / ocean CDR


Climate change has become the largest threat for global biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Urgent mitigation and adaptation actions are needed, where the reduction of the CO2 atmospheric concentration is crucial. This has sparked interest in measuring amount of carbon sequestered and stored within natural ecosystems to understand their role as carbon sinks, and also into exploring the ocean’s potential role in carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and the application of Ocean-CDR strategies.

My work focuses on the study of the coastal carbon cycle and the role of blue carbon habitats (vegetated marine ecosystems including seagrasses, saltmarshes, mangroves, and lately macroalgae) in carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. My research informs conservation and management actions as well as Ocean-CDR strategies.


Relevant publications:

Ricart et al. (2022) Sinking seaweed in the deep ocean for carbon neutrality is ahead of science and beyond the ethics. Environmental Research Letters 17,081003.

Ricart et al. (2020) High variability of Blue Carbon storage in seagrass meadows at the estuary scale. Scientific Reports 10, 5865.

Ricart et al. (2015) Variability of sedimentary organic carbon in patchy seagrass landscapes. Marine Pollution Bulletin 100:476–482.


Benthic habitat mapping / monitoring in coastal areas


During all my career I have been involved in monitoring programs and benthic habitat mapping in marine coastal areas. Some of these programs are directly related to research projects and others are related to management and monitoring projects and have a more applied component.

As a result, I have a long record of developing maps using different technologies (e.g., side scan sonar, AUVs, aerial images) implemented in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Due to the availability of long-term public data from monitoring programs, I also had the opportunity to identify ecosystem shifts, and spot the introduction of new exotic species, while participating in many status reports for marine protected areas.

I aim to keep pushing for the value of monitoring programs in coastal areas and, in particular, for the establishment of coordinated global monitoring programs.


Relevant publications:

Traganos et al. (2022) Spatially explicit seagrass extent mapping across the entire MediterraneanFrontiers in Marine Science 9:871799.

Ricart et al. (2018) Long-term shifts in the north western Mediterranean coastal seascape: The habitat forming seaweed Codium vermilara. Marine Pollution Bulletin 127, 334-341.

Ricart et al. (2016) Coral reef fish assemblages at Clipperton Atoll (Tropical Eastern Pacific) in relation to live coral cover. Scientia Marina 80 (4) 479-486.


Benthic habitat mapping projects (for GIS format files contact me):