Seafloor integrity down the harbor waterfront: the coralligenous shoals off Vado Ligure (NW Mediterranean)

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Giulia Gatti *
Monica Montefalcone
Alessio Rovere
Valeriano Parravicini
Carla Morri
Giancarlo Albertelli
Carlo Nike Bianchi
(*) Corresponding Author:
Giulia Gatti | giulia.gatti@unige.it

Abstract

In the last ten years, European Directives stressed the necessity to assess the ecological status of marine habitats by means of ecosystem or landscape indicators, rather than just species or chemical ones. In this paper, the seascape approach to characterise and assess the ecological quality of coralligenous rocky shoals of Vado Ligure (Savona, Italy) is introduced. This approach integrates biological, mesological and geomorphological information collected with a Rapid Visual Assessment technique (RVA). The RVA also optimised underwater operations in deep waters where coralligenous reefs usually develop and provided a sufficient amount of data collected by direct inspection. The seascape approach results are appropriate for the characterisation of the coralligenous shoals studied and for the assessment of their ecological quality. The quality of the assemblages was in general low, mainly due to high sedimentary stress; however, some exceptions showing a high ecological quality indicate that, with proper manage- ment tools, they would still have good potentialities of recovery.

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