Vermetid reefs are intertidal bioconstructions typical of many subtropical and temperate coastal areas worldwide. Distributed in the warmest waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the reefs are built by the vermetid gastropod Dendropoma petraeum and the coralline alga Neogoniolithon brassica-florida, two species included in the annexes of the Berna Convention. Vermetid reefs provide a wide set of ecosystem services, such as coastal protection from erosion, regulation of sediment transport and accumulation, serving as carbon deposit and increasing biodiversity at the intertidal level. Despite its vulnerability to several threats, such as pollution, spread of invasive species, ocean acidification and anthropic use of rocky shores, the vermetid reef is only generically protected under the European Habitat Directive (92/43/EEC, code 1170), but not explicitly taken into account in many conservation management plans. On 112 censused reefs, the percentage of protected sites varies among countries. About 50 % of the reefs are officially protected in Italy, Malta, Spain, Morocco and Syria, but less than 20 % is protected in Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, and no protection is ensured in Algeria, Cyprus and Libya. In Israel, where protection regards more than 50 % of the reefs, Dendropoma petraeum got recently extinct. Up to date, less than 30 % of vermetid reefs in the Mediterranean are apparently protected by means of MPAs or coastal reserves, but a lack of information on the reef conservation status for the coastal areas of northern Africa and the eastern basin is clear. These data marks the need to extend action plans to protect the vermetid reefs and to improve its management in the Mediterranean. Developing a conservation strategy at basin scale and implementing monitoring of protected and not protected reefs are essential to guarantee an effective and sufficient protection of this neglected but relevant coastal key habitat.
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|