Mediterranean Bioconstructions Along the Italian Coast

Renato Chemello, Marco Milazzo, Federica Costantini, Marco Bertolino, Marzia Bo, Giuseppe Guarnieri, Ferdinando Boero, Laura Pezzolesi, Adriana Villamor, Frine Cardone, Elisa Boscari, Fiorella Prada, Simonetta Fraschetti, Carlo Nike Bianchi, Luigia Donnarumma, Francesco De Leo, Stefano Piraino, Giuseppe Corriero, Giuseppe Corriero, Giovanni ChimientiGianmarco Ingrosso, Francesco De Leo, Fabio Rindi, Francesco De Leo, Francesco De Leo, Luigi Musco, Annalisa Falace, Maria Flavia Gravina, Fabio Badalamenti, Roberto Sandulli, Lorenzo Zane, Marco Abbiati, Francesco Mastrototaro, Renato Chemello, Massimo Ponti, Carla Morri, Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi, Leonardo Congiu, Genuario Belmonte, Carlo Cerrano, Riccardo Cattaneo-Vietti, Marco Milazzo, Giorgio Bavestrello, Adriana Giangrande, Giovanni Fulvio Russo, Rita Cannas, Stanislao Bevilacqua, Alessandro Cau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Marine bioconstructions are biodiversity-rich, three-dimensional biogenic structures, regulating key ecological functions of benthic ecosystems worldwide. Tropical coral reefs are outstanding for their beauty, diversity and complexity, but analogous types of bioconstructions are also present in temperate seas. The main bioconstructions in the Mediterranean Sea are represented by coralligenous formations, vermetid reefs, deep-sea cold-water corals, Lithophyllum byssoides trottoirs, coral banks formed by the shallow-water corals Cladocora caespitosa or Astroides calycularis, and sabellariid or serpulid worm reefs. Bioconstructions change the morphological and chemicophysical features of primary substrates and create new habitats for a large variety of organisms, playing pivotal roles in ecosystem functioning. In spite of their importance, Mediterranean bioconstructions have not received the same attention that tropical coral reefs have, and the knowledge of their biology, ecology and distribution is still fragmentary. All existing data about the spatial distribution of Italian bioconstructions have been collected, together with information about their growth patterns, dynamics and connectivity. The degradation of these habitats as a consequence of anthropogenic pressures (pollution, organic enrichment, fishery, coastal development, direct physical disturbance), climate change and the spread of invasive species was also investigated. The study of bioconstructions requires a holistic approach leading to a better understanding of their ecology and the application of more insightful management and conservation measures at basin scale, within ecologically coherent units based on connectivity: the cells of ecosystem functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-136
Number of pages76
JournalAdvances in Marine Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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