The Strait of Sicily (SoS) represents the boundary between western and eastern Mediterranean sub-regions and is an important biodiversity hot spot. Given its ecotonal nature and it being a “crossroad” for the westward expansion of warm-temperate and tropical species from the Levantine basin, the SoS is likely to play a key role in future climate change related biodiversity changes within the Mediterranean.
This paper reviews the current knowledge on the main characteristics of the north sector of the SoS ecosystem.
The review shows that the SoS is a biologically important area in the Mediterranean Sea. The authors state that its high diversity could be linked firstly to, high habitat complexity and secondly, the ecotonal nature of the SoS with the overlapping distribution of species typical of the western and eastern Mediterranean basin.
Additionally, the review underlines that global warming has also enhanced the role of this area as a “crossroad” for species of distinct tropical origins, expanding their range longitudinally within the Mediterranean and potentially providing a more suitable thermal habitat to invasive species.
The authors alert on the necessity for more research on spatial distribution of key habitats and key species and highlight that the SoS ecosystem is increasingly threatened by expanding anthropogenic pressures in the area and specific conservation measures should be implemented on a national and international level to protect the relevant and vulnerable habitats.
Di Lorenzo M, Sinerchia M, Colloca F (2018) The North sector of the Strait of Sicily: a priority for conservation in the Mediterranean Sea. Hydrobiologia 821:235-253.