The mesophotic domain is a poorly explored part of the oceans, notably in the Mediterranean Sea. Benthic communities in these depths are not well documented and as such are under higher risk from anthropogenic impacts. Hard substrate habitats in this depth window are not common and are a key ecotope. The Malta Plateau in the central Mediterranean, which is characterized by low sedimentation rates, offers a potentially unexplored domain for these features. Bathymetric and backscatter data offshore of the eastern coast of the island of Malta were used to identify > 1,700 small structures in mesophotic depths. These structures were verified to be biogenic mounds by dives. The mounds extend from several meters to tens of meters in diameter and occur in two main depth windows −40 to 83 meters below present sea level (mbpsl) and 83–120 mbpsl—each formed probably in a different stage during the last glacial cycle. The mounds are composed of interlocking bioconstruction by encrusting organisms and are colonized by sponges and various cold water corals (most of which are protected; e.g., Madrepora oculata). This unique and important habitat is currently under grave threat by human activity, most immediately by trawling and anchoring activity.

Bialik, O., Varzi, A., Duran, R., Le Bas, T., Gauci, A., Savini, A., et al. (2022). Mesophotic Depth Biogenic Accumulations (“Biogenic Mounds”) Offshore the Maltese Islands, Central Mediterranean Sea. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, 9 [10.3389/fmars.2022.803687].

Mesophotic Depth Biogenic Accumulations (“Biogenic Mounds”) Offshore the Maltese Islands, Central Mediterranean Sea

Varzi A. G.
Secondo
;
Savini A.;
2022

Abstract

The mesophotic domain is a poorly explored part of the oceans, notably in the Mediterranean Sea. Benthic communities in these depths are not well documented and as such are under higher risk from anthropogenic impacts. Hard substrate habitats in this depth window are not common and are a key ecotope. The Malta Plateau in the central Mediterranean, which is characterized by low sedimentation rates, offers a potentially unexplored domain for these features. Bathymetric and backscatter data offshore of the eastern coast of the island of Malta were used to identify > 1,700 small structures in mesophotic depths. These structures were verified to be biogenic mounds by dives. The mounds extend from several meters to tens of meters in diameter and occur in two main depth windows −40 to 83 meters below present sea level (mbpsl) and 83–120 mbpsl—each formed probably in a different stage during the last glacial cycle. The mounds are composed of interlocking bioconstruction by encrusting organisms and are colonized by sponges and various cold water corals (most of which are protected; e.g., Madrepora oculata). This unique and important habitat is currently under grave threat by human activity, most immediately by trawling and anchoring activity.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Scientifica
biogenic mounds; coralline algae; Malta Plateau; natural heritage; reef; seafloor mapping; trawl marks;
English
Bialik, O., Varzi, A., Duran, R., Le Bas, T., Gauci, A., Savini, A., et al. (2022). Mesophotic Depth Biogenic Accumulations (“Biogenic Mounds”) Offshore the Maltese Islands, Central Mediterranean Sea. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, 9 [10.3389/fmars.2022.803687].
Bialik, O; Varzi, A; Duran, R; Le Bas, T; Gauci, A; Savini, A; Micallef, A
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Bialik_etal2022.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia di allegato: Publisher’s Version (Version of Record, VoR)
Dimensione 10.7 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
10.7 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/371221
Citazioni
  • Scopus 1
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
Social impact