Shallow-water marine organisms are among the first to suffer from combined effects of natural and anthropogenic drivers. The orange coral Astroides calycularis is a shallow-water bioconstructor species endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Although raising conservation interest, also given its special position within the Dendrophylliidae, information about the threats to its health is scant. We investigated the health status of A. calycularis at five locations in northwestern Sicily along a gradient of cumulative human impact and the most probable origin of the threats to this species, including anthropogenic land-based and sea-based threats. Cumulative human impact appeared inversely related to the performance of A. calycularis at population, colony, and polyp levels. Sea-based human impacts appeared among the most likely causes of the variation observed. The reduction in polyp length can limit the reproductive performance of A. calycularis, while the decrease of percent cover and colony area is expected to impair its peculiar feeding behaviour by limiting the exploitable dimensional range of prey and, ultimately, reef functioning. This endangered habitat-forming species appeared susceptible to anthropogenic pressures, suggesting the need to re-assess its vulnerability status. Creating microprotected areas with specific restrictions to sea-based human impacts could be the best practice preserve these bioconstructions.

Anthropogenic impact is negatively related to coral health in Sicily (Mediterranean Sea)

Agnetta D;
2019

Abstract

Shallow-water marine organisms are among the first to suffer from combined effects of natural and anthropogenic drivers. The orange coral Astroides calycularis is a shallow-water bioconstructor species endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Although raising conservation interest, also given its special position within the Dendrophylliidae, information about the threats to its health is scant. We investigated the health status of A. calycularis at five locations in northwestern Sicily along a gradient of cumulative human impact and the most probable origin of the threats to this species, including anthropogenic land-based and sea-based threats. Cumulative human impact appeared inversely related to the performance of A. calycularis at population, colony, and polyp levels. Sea-based human impacts appeared among the most likely causes of the variation observed. The reduction in polyp length can limit the reproductive performance of A. calycularis, while the decrease of percent cover and colony area is expected to impair its peculiar feeding behaviour by limiting the exploitable dimensional range of prey and, ultimately, reef functioning. This endangered habitat-forming species appeared susceptible to anthropogenic pressures, suggesting the need to re-assess its vulnerability status. Creating microprotected areas with specific restrictions to sea-based human impacts could be the best practice preserve these bioconstructions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/4072
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