Holon, F., Marre, G., Parravicini, V.,Mouquet, N. Bockel, T., Descamp, P., Tribot, A.S., Boissery, P. & Deter, J. (2018).

Ecological Indicators, 129, 107935, doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.107935

Key message : Understanding the aesthetic value of biodiversity is crucial as it influences human well-being and motivation for conservation. In our study of the endangered coralligenous reefs on the French Mediterranean coastline, we utilized a unique combination of human image evaluations and deep learning to quantify the aesthetic value of over 7692 photographic plots across 95 sites. Through structural equation modeling, we found that taxonomic diversity positively influenced aesthetic value. Furthermore, while certain species contributed positively to aesthetic appeal, others detracted from it. Interestingly, we observed that human perceptions often held an aesthetic bias, not always aligning with the ecosystem's functional and phylogenetic diversities. By mapping the aesthetic and ecological values along the coastline, we offer a visual tool beneficial for conservation efforts. Our methodology provides a pioneering and adaptable approach to evaluating the often-underestimated aesthetic significance of diverse ecosystems, whether marine or terrestrial.

Effect of the species composition on the aesthetic value: Histogram of the strength (and direction) of the significant (p < 0.05) effects of 68 species on the aesthetic values of the photographic quadrats (coefficient associated to each species in the linear model between the aesthetic value of the photographic quadrats and the relative abundances of the species). For each taxonomic group, we show examples of photographic quadrat which contain the species with the highest positive (above) and/or the lowest negative (below) effects on the aesthetic value (illustrated by the white dashed rectangles). The corresponding names of those species are OSVO = Osmundaria volubilis; FARE = Gloiocladia repens; DESA = Dentiporella sardonica; CRSP = Crisia sp; APLI = Aplidium sp; SPSO = Spatoglossum solieri; DIIM = Dictyota implexa; LICA = Lithophyllum cabiochae; MESP = Mesophyllum sp; ANSU = Antipathella subpinnata; SASP = Sabella spallanzanii; PACL = Paramuricea clavata; LEPR = Leptopsammia pruvoti; ECME = Echinus melo; ALCO = Alcyonium coralloides; COEF = Codium effusum; BRSP = Bryopsis sp; IRVA = Ircinia variabilis; PHFI = Phorbas fictitius.

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb