Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA4.27 Communities of Mediterranean lower circalittoral rock

Communities of Mediterranean lower circalittoral rock

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA4.27
Threat status
Europe Data Deficient
EU Data Deficient
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This habitat is composed of hard substrata in areas with low hydrodynamics. It typically occurs on the edge of the continental shelf, on the rocks near the break of the slope and in some areas after the shelfbreak. Because of the depth,  macroscopic vegetation is absent. This is the assemblage of the lower circalittoral zone, which characterises the Mediterranean rocky reef, also linking the circalittoral coralligenous and the bathyal habitats.

The characteristic and dominant element of the biotic community of this habitat is represented mainly by erect large sponges such as Poecillastra compressa, Phakellia ventilabrum, Tylodesma inornata, and Haliclona (Halichoclona) magna, yellow cup coral Dendrophylia cornigera, the black corals Antipatharia sp (Parantiathes larix, Antipathella subpinnata), and the brachiopodes Cistella cuneate, Gryphus vitreus and Mergerlia truncata.

Indicators of quality:

Standard biotic and abiotic indicators have been used to describe marine habitat quality. Both biotic and abiotic indicators have been used to describe marine habitat quality. These include the presence of particular species, water quality parameters, levels of exposure to a particular exposure as well as more integrated indices which describe habitat function and structure, such as trophic index, or successful stages of development in habitats that have a natural cycle of change over time.

There are no known commonly agreed indicators of quality for this habitat, although particular parameters may be set in certain situations, e.g. protected features with Natura 2000 sites, where reference values may have been determined and applied on a location-specific basis. 

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This is a very poorly studied habitat type that hosts several endangered species. There are only a few reports of its distribution with a description of the composing communities along some EU Mediterranean countries and almost none from non-EU countries. The scarcity of the information across the Mediterranean means it has not been possible to determne if a reduction in the quality of the habitat is widespread and the is no quantifiable data on quality. This habitat has therefore been assessed as Data Deficient for both EU 28 and the EU 28+.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Exploration drilling
    • Production drilling
  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Demersal longlining
    • Benthic or demersal trawling
    • Benthic dredging
    • Removal for collection purposes
    • Other (i.e. drift nets)

Habitat restoration potential

In general, capacity for recovery is unknown. It is suspected however, that the recovery from damage caused by fisheries of some of the main fauna such as D. cornigera or black corals would probably take several hundreds to thousands of years. This is due to the slow growth rate and low dispersal ability that influence the low recovery ability of some of these species. Recovery capacity for erect sponges is unknown.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Basic knowledge on the habitat and its distribution in the Mediterranean, on species assemblages and biology (distribution, abundance, habitat preferences, life-cycles) and monitoring data on trends is needed to improve spatial planning in general, and strategic planning of human activities when there are competing demands in particular.
Designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Fisheries Restricted Areas (FRAs) in sites where this habitat occurs or extension of existing ones, should be established to create a representative network of Mediterranean MPAs. This will also help monitoring and regulating the fishing effort, especially the establishment of closed areas over part of the distribution of this habitat to protect juvenile and spawning fish and fragile benthic communities.
Regulation of artisanal fishing activities, such as benthic long lines, trammel and gillnets, on rocky areas inhabited by threatened species that are the main component of this habitat should be enforced. This should be particularly encouraged where the habitat occurs near the shore (i.e. western Corsica, the Ligurian Sea) because the habitat is even more exposed and the control of fishing should be easier to manage.
Additionally, assessment for the further inclusion of massive Mediterranean sponges which are associated with this habitat, in the Annex II of the Barcelona Convention should be proposed.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to marine habitats
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
  • Measures related to special resouce use
    • Other resource use measures
    • Regulating/Managing exploitation of natural resources on sea

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

Seas Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Adriatic Sea Present Unknown Decreasing Unknown
Aegian-Levantine Sea
Ionian Sea and the Central Mediterranean Sea
Western Mediterranean Sea

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 1,851,450 3,642 644,686 EOO and AOO have been calculated on the available data. Although this data set is known to be incomplete the figures exceed the thresholds for threatened status.
EU28+ 5,000 650,861 EOO and AOO have been calculated on the available data. Although this data set is known to be incomplete the figures exceed the thresholds for threatened status.
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Invertebrates Acanthella acuta
Invertebrates Acanthogorgia hirsuta
Invertebrates Alcyonium acaule
Invertebrates Antedon mediterranea
Invertebrates Antipathella subpinnata
Invertebrates Axinella polypoides
Invertebrates Cidaris cidaris
Invertebrates Corallium rubrum
Invertebrates Echinus melo
Invertebrates Ellisella paraplexauroides
Invertebrates Gryphus vitreus
Invertebrates Holothuria forskali
Invertebrates Munida rugosa
Invertebrates Muriceides lepida
Invertebrates Ophiacantha setosa
Invertebrates Palinurus elephas
Invertebrates Paralcyonium spinulosum
Invertebrates Paramuricea clavata
Invertebrates Paramuricea macrospina
Invertebrates Phakellia ventilabrum
Invertebrates Poecillastra compressa
Invertebrates Suberites carnosus
Invertebrates Villogorgia bebrycoides
Invertebrates Viminella flagellum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Acanthella acuta Invertebrates
Acanthogorgia hirsuta Invertebrates
Alcyonium acaule Invertebrates
Antedon mediterranea Invertebrates
Antipathella subpinnata Invertebrates
Axinella polypoides Invertebrates
Cidaris cidaris Invertebrates
Corallium rubrum Invertebrates
Echinus melo Invertebrates
Ellisella paraplexauroides Invertebrates
Gryphus vitreus Invertebrates
Holothuria forskali Invertebrates
Munida rugosa Invertebrates
Muriceides lepida Invertebrates
Ophiacantha setosa Invertebrates
Palinurus elephas Invertebrates
Paralcyonium spinulosum Invertebrates
Paramuricea clavata Invertebrates
Paramuricea macrospina Invertebrates
Phakellia ventilabrum Invertebrates
Poecillastra compressa Invertebrates
Suberites carnosus Invertebrates
Villogorgia bebrycoides Invertebrates
Viminella flagellum Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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