The Mediterranean vermetid reefs: distribution and conservation status

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Abstract

The vermetid reef is an intertidal bioconstruction distributed in the warmest waters of theMediterranean Sea, and is built by the gregarious vermetid gastropodDendropomaspp. cemented by the coralline red algae of the genusNeogoniolithon.Thisbiogenichabitatisonlygenerically protected under the European Habitat Directive, but to date it is not explicitlytaken into account in many conservation plans. Despite the documented local extinction ofDendropomain the some Eastern Mediterranean locations, its role as habitat engineer and thehigh numbers of ecosystem services provided, vermetid reef is among the least known marinebioconstruction of the Mediterranean. We counted 112 reefs along the Mediterranean coast,44 of which are located in the Eastern basin and rest in the Western sector. Among them 44%are theoretically protected, while 56% do not benefit from any form of protection. ExcludingSites of Community Importance, existing only in European Countries, only 32 reefs (28.5%) areincluded within a MPA or a coastal reserve. No protection at all is ensured in Algeria, Cyprusand Libya, while less than 50% of the reefs are protected in Italy, Malta, Spain, Morocco andSyria, and less than 20% is protected in Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey. Our analyses suggest theneed to enlarge action plans to provide a true protection for the vermetid reef and to developa conservation strategy at a basin scale,implementing the monitoring of this neglected butecologically relevant coastal key habitat.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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