Main issues

Coastal ecology

A large part of the coast of Alentejo (SW continental Portugal) includes a natural park and two nature reserves: Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Reserva Natural das Lagoas de Santo André e da Sancha, and Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado. In this coast we can find different marine habitats, as estuaries (e.g. Mira, Odeceixe), coastal lagoons (e.g. Santo André lagoon), sandy beaches and rocky shores.

Most of our studies have been done on intertidal rocky shores or estuaries, but also in shallow subtidal habitats. The coast of Alentejo is where most of these studies have been made, but other coastal regions of Portugal and Africa (Cape Verde and northwest continental coast) have also been studied.

We have been testing hypotheses on spatial and temporal patterns and processes of distribution and abundance of invertebrates (e.g. barnacles, limpets, topshells, sea urchins), fishes and seaweeds on rocky shores, and invertebrates (macrofauna and meiofauna) and plants in estuarine shores.

We have been studying recruitment (arrival of larvae and survival of juveniles) of barnacles (stalked barnacle Pollicipes pollicipes  and acorn barnacles Chthamalus  spp.), its spatial and temporal patterns, and its processes. Genetic variability, phylogenetics and biogeography of barnacles have also been studied and a new species of stalked barnacle was found in Cape Verde (Pollicipes caboverdensis ).

Direct and indirect effects of predation by invertebrates and fishes have also been studied by us.

Biology and conservation of marine living resources

In the coast of Alentejo fishery activities are frequent and made for subsistence, commercial use or recreation. Fisheries intensity, catches and impact have been studied on rocky shores of this coast, as well as the opinion of fishermen on fishing regulations.

We have been specially interested in the biology, ecology and exploitation of the stalked barnacle Pollicipes pollicipes , the most important (economic) intertidal resource in the Portuguese continental coast. National and international conferences have been organized on the biology and fisheries of this species, and we have also presented management and conservation proposals and recommendations towards a sustainable use of this living resource. Biological and economic viability of this species cultivation has also been studied.

Our marine conservation studies also include the assessment and monitoring of protection effects, namely in the natural park “Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina”.

Marine pollution

The Port of Sines has national and international importance for energy supply and containerized cargo handling.

Potential environmental impacts are related with industrial and recreational activities of this port, namely in its oil/chemical and multipurpose terminals, fishing port and leisure port, and with sewage input.

With the overall aim of assessing the impact of the Port of Sines in the marine environment and with the support and funding of the Administration of the Ports of Sines and Algarve, several marine environments have been studied since 1997: water, subtidal sediments, intertidal and subtidal rocky bottoms, and living indicators (mussel and imposex in Nassarius reticulatus ).

Spatial and temporal patterns of several physical, chemical and/or biological variables have been analysed at different scales for the assessment of pollutant contaminants levels or effects.