Beside the already localised northern Adriatic coralligenous reefs (Curiel et al. 2012; Falace et al. 2015; Ponti et al. 2014; Ponti et al. 2011), habitat suitability models developed in WP5 (Falace et al. 2015; Martin et al. 2014) will be used to identify areas where MBHs may occur, and their presence and typologies will be randomly verified (sea-truth approach). Sites representative of the different habitat typologies will be mapped using acoustic/video surveys (Meidinger et al. 2013) and the open source QuantumGIS software. The percent cover of the main taxa and of the morphological groups will be measured directly by SCUBA diving (Heine 2011) and by analysing photographic and video samples using PhotoQuad (Trygonis and Sini 2012). Samples for detailed taxonomic analyses will be also collected and processed in the lab. Based on the results of these analyses, a detailed list of algae and invertebrates will be compiled for each of the sites. Water column parameters (CTD), including light attenuation, will be measured. A multifactorial sampling design will be implemented to analyse the spatial scales of variability of species diversity. Data on environmental variables and on the structure of the assemblages will be analysed using univariate and multivariate methods (e.g. ANOVA, PERMANOVA, PCoA, RDA, Cluster Analysis, DistLM (Anderson and ter Braak 2003); softwares R and PRIMER 6). Specimens of algae and invertebrate, selected for their relevance as bioconstructor (e.g. coralline algae), bioeroder (e.g. boring sponges), habitat formers (e.g. cnidarians) or possible GCC indicators (e.g. zooxanthellate corals), will be collected for taxonomic and genetic analyses (WP3) and for lab experiments (WP4).


Biological quality elements will be measured and biological indices, including ESCA (Piazzi et al. 2015), will be applied to compare the quality of MBHs under different ecological conditions. Moreover, information on local human threats (e.g. fishing and harvesting activities, marine traffic, offshore industry, diving, coastal urbanization and pollution) will be gathered from literature and available databases.

This WP will provide understanding on species diversity and their scales of spatial variability, relevance of environmental variables, human threats and the present ecological status of Adriatic Mesophotic Biogenic Habitats (MBHs).

Ongoing research





Anderson, M.J., ter Braak, C.J.F., 2003. Permutation tests for multi-factorial analysis of variance. Journal of Statistical Computation and Simulation 73, 85-113. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0094965021000015558

Curiel, D., Falace, A., Bandelj, V., Kaleb, S., Solidoro, C., Ballesteros, E., 2012. Species composition and spatial variability of macroalgal assemblages on biogenic reefs in the northern Adriatic Sea. Botanica Marina 55, 625-638. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/bot-2012-0166

Falace, A., Kaleb, S., Curiel, D., Miotti, C., Galli, G., Querin, S., Ballesteros, E., Solidoro, C., Bandelj, V., 2015. Calcareous bio-concretions in the northern Adriatic Sea: Habitat types, environmental factors that influence habitat distributions, and predictive modeling. PLoS ONE 10, e0140931. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140931

Heine, J.N. ed., 2011. Scientific Diving Techniques. A practical guide for the research diver. Second edition. Best Publishing Company, Flagstaff, Arizona (USA).

Martin, C.S., Giannoulaki, M., De Leo, F., Scardi, M., Salomidi, M., Knittweis, L., Pace, M.L., Garofalo, G., Gristina, M., Ballesteros, E., Bavestrello, G., Belluscio, A., Cebrian, E., Gerakaris, V., Pergent, G., Pergent-Martini, C., Schembri, P.J., Terribile, K., Rizzo, L., Souissi, J.B., Bonacorsi, M., Guarnieri, G., Krzelj, M., Macic, V., Punzo, E., Valavanis, V., Fraschetti, S., 2014. Coralligenous and maërl habitats: predictive modelling to identify their spatial distributions across the Mediterranean Sea. Scientific Reports 4, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep05073

Meidinger, M., Markantonatou, V., Sano, M., Palma, M., Ponti, M., 2013. Seafloor mapping and cartography for the management of marine protected areas. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology 4, 120-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19475721.2013.848529

Piazzi, L., Gennaro, P., Cecchi, E., Serena, F., 2015. Improvement of the ESCA index for the evaluation of ecological quality of coralligenous habitats under the European framework directives. Mediterranean Marine Science 16, 419-426. http://dx.doi.org/10.12681/mms.1029

Ponti, M., Falace, A., Rindi, F., Fava, F., Kaleb, S., Abbiati, M., 2014. Beta diversity patterns in northern Adriatic coralligenous outcrops, In Proceedings of the 2nd Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of the coralligenous and other calcareous bio-concretions. eds C. Bouafif, H. Langar, A. Ouerghi, pp. 147-152. UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA, Portorož, Slovenia.

Ponti, M., Fava, F., Abbiati, M., 2011. Spatial-temporal variability of epibenthic assemblages on subtidal biogenic reefs in the northern Adriatic Sea. Marine Biology 158, 1447-1459. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00227-011-1661-3

Trygonis, V., Sini, M., 2012. photoQuad: A dedicated seabed image processing software, and a comparative error analysis of four photoquadrat methods. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 424-425, 99-108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2012.04.018