Participant of COCARDE Network

University of Catania

The palaeontology team of the Catania University deals with multidisciplinary marine research, mostly within ecology and palaeocology of Coenozoic to Recent benthic assemblages from the Mediterranean basin, and from the NE Atlantic, Antarctic, Sub-antarctic and SE Asia. Studies are finalised to characterise different habitats from the continental shelf and slope and to reconstruct the spatial and temporal evolution of the benthic communities. Special emphasis is devoted to the study of build-ups both from shelf (Coralligenous ecosystem and bryozoan-serpulid bioconstructions) and slope environments (Cold-Water Coral ecosystems) through palaeoecological and taphonomical approaches. Taxonomic expertises centre mostly on bryozoans, serpulids, ostracods, molluscs, cirripeds and coralline algae.
The team has been involved in (a) the Italian project FIRB-APLABES 2004-2006 (Apulian Plateau Bank Ecosystem Study) focused on deep-sea coral mounds off Santa Maria di Leuca, in the Ionian Sea, (b) the Corallo Rosso project in the Sicily Straits also including some würmian white-coral habitats, (c) two MATTM projects (2007-2008 and 2009-2010) about the assessment of the biodiversity and colonization in coralligenous and underwater cave communities, (d) a project on the coralligenous and white coral bioconstructions from Apulia, and (e) several local projects including paleontological studies of Plio-Pleistocene deep-sea outcrops from Sicily.


The main expertises of the team are as follows:

  • Taxonomy, ecology and palaeoecology of benthic communities with emphasis on bioconstructions and relationships of the skeletonised species
  • Taphonomy
  • Facies analysis and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions
  • Sedimentologic and bionomic cartography


Recent and on-going projects

  • PRIN 2006-2007– Catastrophic events and their impact on benthic faunas of meso- and infralittoral soft bottoms: the case of the Khao Lak coastal area (Andaman Sea, Thailand).
  • MATTM 2007-2009- Study of infralittoral hard bottoms in four Marine Protected Areas.
  • MATTM 2008-2010- Study of submerged marine cave environments (COD. 8330) in the Marine Protected Areas of Capo Caccia, Plemmirio and Isole Pelagie.
  • 2011- Marine bioconstructions in Apulia (Biocostruzioni marine in Puglia, P.O. FESR 2007-2013. Asse 4, Linea 4.4. Interventi per la rete ecologica).



The team benefits from the facilities of the Department of Geological Sciences and of the Catania University and is in charge of the laboratories of Palaeoecology, Sedimentology, Electronic Microscopy.




Prof. Dr. 
Antonietta Rosso


Prof. Dr. 
Francesco Sciuto


Prof. Dr.
Rossana Sanfilippo


Raffaella Di Geronimo


Vincenzo Di Martino


Related publications


Rosso A, Vertino A, Di Geronimo I, Sanfilippo R, Sciuto F, Di Geronimo R, Violanti D, Corselli C, Taviani M, Mastrotaro F, Tursi A.. 2010. Hard- and soft-bottom thanatofacies from the Santa Maria di Leuca deep-water coral province, Mediterranean. Deep-Sea Research II, 57: 360-379

Vertino A, Savini A, Rosso A., Di Geronimo I., Mastrotaro F., Sanfilippo R., Gay G., Etiope G. 2010. Benthic habitat characterization and distribution from two representative sites of the deep-water SML Coral Province (Mediterranean). Deep-Sea Research II, 57: 380-396

Malinverno E, Taviani M, Rosso A, Violanti D, Villa I, Savini A, Vertino A, Remia A, Corselli C 2010. Stratigraphic framework of the Apulian deep-water coral province, Ionian Sea. Deep-Sea Research II, 57: 345-359

Mastrototaro F., D’Onghia G., Corriero G., Matarrese A., Maiorano P., Panetta P., Gherardi M., Longo C., Rosso A., Sciuto F., Sanfilippo R., Gravili C., Boero F, Taviani M., Tursi A. 2010. Biodiversity of the white coral bank off Cape Santa Maria di Leuca (Mediterranean Sea): An update. Deep Sea Research II. 57 (5-6): 412-430. doi 10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.08.021.



Chiocci F.L., Catalano R., Di Geronimo I., Critelli S., Martorelli E., Agate M., Barone M., Dominici R., Marchetti M., Rosso A., Sulli A., Valenti V., Zanini A. 2009. Note illustrative della Carta Geologica d’Italia, scala 1: 50.000, Foglio 601: Messina-Reggio di Calabria. Aree Marine.

Rosso A., Sanfilippo R. 2009. The contribution of bryozoans and serpuloideans to coralligenous concretions from SE Sicily. In: UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, Proceedings of the First Symposium on the Coralligenous and other calcareous bio-concretions of the Mediterranean Sea (Tabarka, 15-16 January, 2009): 123- 128.

Sanfilippo R. 2009. New species of Hyalopomatus Marenzeller, 1878 (Annelida, Polychaeta, Serpulidae) from Recent Mediterranean deep-water coral mounds and comments on some congeners. Zoosystema, 31(1), 147-161.

Rosso A, Sanfilippo R. 2009. Ruolo di Briozoi e serpuloidei nelle biocostruzioni a coralli profondi del mar Ionio. Biol. Mar. Mediterr., 16(1): 44-45.



Sciuto F., Rosso A. 2008. Distribution pattern of deep-water Ostracod Assemblages within Lower Pleistocene sediments from Furnari (Sicily). Bollettino Società Paleontologica Italiana, 47 (1): 33-43.



Di Geronimo I, Messina C, Rosso A, Sanfilippo R, Sciuto F, Vertino A 2005. Enhanced biodiversity in the deep: Early Pleistocene coral communities from southern Italy. In: Freiwald A, Roberts JM (eds), Cold-water Corals and Ecosystems. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg: 61-86.

Rosso A., Sanfilippo R. 2005. Bryozoan and serpuloidean skeletobiont communities from Pleistocene of Sicily: spatial utilisation and competitive interactions. In: Fugagnoli A. e Bassi D. (Eds) Ann. Univ. Ferrara. Sez. Museologia Scientifica e Naturalistica.Vol. Spec. 2005: 115-130.

Rosso A. 2005. Bryozoan facies in deep-sea Pleistocene environments of southern Italy. In: Cancino J., Moyano H. and Wise-Jackson P. (eds.) Bryozoan studies 2004: 257-269. A.A. Balkema Publishers: Leiden, London, New York, Philadelphia, Singapore. DOI: 10.1201/9780203970799.ch25.



Di Geronimo I., Di Geronimo R., Rosso A., Sanfilippo R. 2002. Structural and taphonomic analysis of a columnar build-up from Sicily shelf. Géobios. Mem. Spec. 24, 35: 86-95.

Rosso A. 2002. Bryobaculum carinatum sp. n., gen. n., a new Mediterranean Pliocene deep-sea bryozoan. In: Wyse Jackson P.N., Battler C.J. & Spencer Jones M.E. (Eds.), Bryozoan Studies 2001, Proceedings of the 12th IBA Conference: 175-182.

Rosso A. 2002. Terataulopocella borealis gen. et sp. nov., a deep-water Pliocene Lekythoporid (Bryozoa) from the Mediterranean area. Memorie di Scienze Geologiche, 54: 65-72.

Rosso A., Taylor P.D. 2002. A new anascan cheilostome Bryozoan from Iceland deep waters and its uniserial colony growth pattern. Sarsia, 87: 35-46.



Di Geronimo I., Di Geronimo R., Improta S., Rosso A., Sanfilippo R. 2001. Preliminary observation on a columnar coralline build-up from off SE Sicily. Biologia Marina Mediterranea, 8(1): 229-237.

Di Geronimo I., Rosso A., La Perna R., Sanfilippo R. 2001. Deep-sea (250-1,550m) benthic thanatocoenoses from Southern Thyrrenian Sea. In: Faranda F.M., Guglielmo L., Spezie G. (eds.) Mediterranean Ecosystems: Structures and Processes, ch. 36: 277-287. Springer Verlag.