The Status of Coastal Benthic Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea: Evidence From Ecological Indicators

Stanislao Bevilacqua, Stelios Katsanevakis, Fiorenza Micheli, Enric Sala, Gil Rilov, Gianluca Sarà, Dania Abdul Malak, Ameer Abdulla, Vasilis Gerovasileiou, Elena Gissi, Antonios D. Mazaris, Carlo Pipitone, Maria Sini, Vanessa Stelzenmüller, Antonio Terlizzi, Valentina Todorova, Simonetta Fraschetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Mediterranean Sea is subject to multiple human pressures increasingly threatening its unique biodiversity. Spatially explicit information on the ecological status of marine ecosystems is therefore key to an effective maritime spatial planning and management, and to help the achievement of environmental targets. Here, we summarized scientific data on the ecological status of a selection of marine ecosystems based on a set of ecological indicators in more than 700 sites of the Mediterranean Sea. For Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds, rocky intertidal fringe, and coastal soft bottoms, more than 70% of investigated sites exhibited good to high ecological conditions. In contrast, about two-thirds of sites for subtidal rocky reefs were classified to be in moderate to bad conditions, stressing the need for prioritizing conservation initiatives on these productive and diverse environments. Very little quantitative information was available for the southern Mediterranean Sea, thus monitoring programs and assessments in this area are essential for a representative assessment of the health of marine coastal ecosystems in the whole basin. This overview represents a first step to implement a baseline that, through georeferenced data on ecological status, could help identifying information gaps, directing future research priorities, and supporting improvements to spatial models of expected cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number475
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - 19 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Bevilacqua, Katsanevakis, Micheli, Sala, Rilov, Sarà, Malak, Abdulla, Gerovasileiou, Gissi, Mazaris, Pipitone, Sini, Stelzenmüller, Terlizzi, Todorova and Fraschetti.


  • ecological quality ratio
  • rocky intertidal
  • rocky subtidal reefs
  • seagrass beds
  • soft bottoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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