Marine bioconstructions are biodiversity-rich, three-dimensional biogenic structures, regulating key ecological functions of benthic ecosystems worldwide.
In the Mediterranean Sea the main bioconstructions are represented by coralligenous formations, vermetid reefs, deep-sea cold-water corals, Lithophyllum byssoides trottoirs, coral banks formed by the shallow-water corals Cladocora caespitosa or Astroides calycularis, and sabellariid or serpulid worm reefs.
These bioconstructions change the morphological and chemicophysical features of primary substrates and create new habitats for a large variety of organisms, playing pivotal roles in ecosystem functioning.
This review compiles all existing data on the spatial distribution of Italian bioconstructions, together with information about their growth patterns, dynamics and connectivity. The degradation of these habitats as a consequence of anthropogenic pressures, climate change and the spread of invasive species was also investigated.
The authors suggest using a holistic approach when studying bioconstructions, leading to a better understanding of their ecology and the application of more insightful management and conservation measures at basin scale, within ecologically coherent units based on connectivity.
On the conservation of these bioconstructions, the authors state that the basic principle of guidelines to preserve bioconstructions is very simple: impacts affecting them must be identified and removed. Of course, this can be straightforward for direct impacts, but global impacts such as climate warming are more difficult to manage. In this sense, the authors highlight that the avoidance of direct stress on biogenic structures as a result of protection policies should lead to healthier habitats that will better respond to global stressors such as warming and acidification.
Ingrosso et al. (2018) Mediterranean bionconstructions along the Italian Coast. Advances in Marine Biology 70:61-136