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Vulnerable Forests of the Pink Sea Fan Eunicella verrucosa in the Mediterranean Sea

1
Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
2
CoNISMa, Piazzale Flaminio 9, 00197 Roma, Italy
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12050176
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 25 April 2020 / Accepted: 28 April 2020 / Published: 30 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Marine Diversity)
The pink sea fan Eunicella verrucosa (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Alcyonacea) can form coral forests at mesophotic depths in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the recognized importance of these habitats, they have been scantly studied and their distribution is mostly unknown. This study reports the new finding of E. verrucosa forests in the Mediterranean Sea, and the updated distribution of this species that has been considered rare in the basin. In particular, one site off Sanremo (Ligurian Sea) was characterized by a monospecific population of E. verrucosa with 2.3 ± 0.2 colonies m−2. By combining new records, literature, and citizen science data, the species is believed to be widespread in the basin with few or isolated colonies, and 19 E. verrucosa forests were identified. The overall associated community showed how these coral forests are essential for species of conservation interest, as well as for species of high commercial value. For this reason, proper protection and management strategies are necessary. View Full-Text
Keywords: Anthozoa; Alcyonacea; gorgonian; coral habitat; coral forest; VME; biodiversity; mesophotic; citizen science; distribution Anthozoa; Alcyonacea; gorgonian; coral habitat; coral forest; VME; biodiversity; mesophotic; citizen science; distribution
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Chimienti, G. Vulnerable Forests of the Pink Sea Fan Eunicella verrucosa in the Mediterranean Sea. Diversity 2020, 12, 176.

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