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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the editor and the two reviewers for their fruitful comments on this paper. Funding. This article was undertaken in the framework of COST Action 15121 “Advancing marine conservation in the ECS” (MarCons; http://www.marcons-cost.eu ; Katsanevakis et al., 2017), supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). Aegean Sea data were retrieved in the frameworks of the projects “MARISCA – MARItime Spatial planning for the protection and Conservation of the biodiversity in the Aegean Sea” (www.marisca.eu), co-funded by 85% by the EEA GRANTS, 2009–2014, and 15% by the Public Investments Program (PIP) of the Hellenic Republic, and “PROTOMEDEA – Toward the Establishment of Marine Protected Area Networks in the Eastern Mediterranean” (www.protomedea.eu), funded by DG for Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, under Grant Agreement SI2.721917.
© 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
- Global and Planetary Change
- Aquatic Science
- Water Science and Technology
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Ocean Engineering