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Mediterranean marine caves as biodiversity reservoirs: a preliminary overview
Gerovasileiou, V.; Voultsiadou, E. (2015). Mediterranean marine caves as biodiversity reservoirs: a preliminary overview, in: Langar, H. et al. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 1st Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of dark habitats, Portorož, Slovenia, 31 October 2014. pp. 45-50
In: Langar, H. et al. (Ed.) (2015). Proceedings of the 1st Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of dark habitats, Portorož, Slovenia, 31 October 2014. UNEP/MAP/RAC/SPA: Tunis. 92 pp., more

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Document type: Conference paper

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Marine caves, habitat, biodiversity reservoir, biodiversity hotspot, Mediterranean Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Gerovasileiou, V., more
  • Voultsiadou, E., more

Abstract
    Marine caves constitute a typical feature of the Mediterranean coastline, yet knowledge on their biodiversity is scattered and geographically fragmented. In order to assess the overall diversity of the Mediterranean cave biota, an overview of 307 studies was combined with data obtained from previously unexplored marine caves of the Aegean Sea. A total of 2167 taxa were recorded from 350 caves in 15 countries. Our analyses showed that research has mainly taken place in semi-submerged and shallow caves from the northern Mediterranean. Species richness varied among areas, reflecting variability in research effort and in the number of caves, which are more abundant on the rocky coasts of the northern basin. The Tyrrhenian Sea (822 taxa), Ionian Sea (696), and French coasts (650) presented the highest species richness and research effort. The biodiversity overview revealed that marine caves harbour a considerable proportion of the total Mediterranean fauna for particular phyla, especially for brachiopods, bryozoans and sponges. However, gaps of knowledge emerged regarding certain areas, groups of biota, assemblages, and cave types. It is suggested that Mediterranean marine caves constitute significant biodiversity reservoirs deserving further scientific research and conservation actions.

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