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.
|Numero di pagine||76|
|Rivista||Advances in Marine Biology|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2018|