A forest of the black coral Antipathella subpinnata was found from 52 to 80 m depth in three different sites at Tremiti Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA; Mediterranean Sea), with two of them hosting a monospecific forest on horizontal and vertical substrates. Colonies of A. subpinnata showed a mean density between 0.22 ± 0.03 and 2.40 ± 0.26 colonies m-2 (maximum local values of 2.4-7.2 colonies m-2). The link between the local distribution of A. subpinnata and the main oceanographic features confirmed the fundamental role of the currents in shaping the distribution of the species in presence of hard substrata. This black coral forest represents the only one known thus far in the Adriatic Sea, but it could be linked with other unseen forests all over the Mediterranean Sea. The associated megafauna highlights the importance of these forests as habitat for species of both conservation and commercial importance but, at the same time, makes such habitat a target for fishing practices, as many lost fishing gears were found within the coral forest. The enlargement of the MPA borders and the enforcement of controls in the area of the A. subpinnata forest is urgently needed for the proper conservation of this protected species.

A mesophotic black coral forest in the Adriatic Sea

Chimienti, Giovanni
;
Mastrototaro, Francesco
2020-01-01

Abstract

A forest of the black coral Antipathella subpinnata was found from 52 to 80 m depth in three different sites at Tremiti Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA; Mediterranean Sea), with two of them hosting a monospecific forest on horizontal and vertical substrates. Colonies of A. subpinnata showed a mean density between 0.22 ± 0.03 and 2.40 ± 0.26 colonies m-2 (maximum local values of 2.4-7.2 colonies m-2). The link between the local distribution of A. subpinnata and the main oceanographic features confirmed the fundamental role of the currents in shaping the distribution of the species in presence of hard substrata. This black coral forest represents the only one known thus far in the Adriatic Sea, but it could be linked with other unseen forests all over the Mediterranean Sea. The associated megafauna highlights the importance of these forests as habitat for species of both conservation and commercial importance but, at the same time, makes such habitat a target for fishing practices, as many lost fishing gears were found within the coral forest. The enlargement of the MPA borders and the enforcement of controls in the area of the A. subpinnata forest is urgently needed for the proper conservation of this protected species.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/297161
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