Bridging the knowledge gap on the distribution and typology of vermetid bioconstructions along the Maltese coastline: an updated assessment


Published: Οκτ 6, 2022
Keywords:
vermetid trottoirs coastal ecology ICZM Maltese Islands central Mediterranean
GIULIO FRANZITTA
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6919-5374
ALEESIO MARRONE
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8250-9673
ADAM GAUCI
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8635-9230
JOHANN GALDIES
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6022-360X
MARIA CRISTINA MANGANO
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6980-9834
GIANLUCA SARA
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7658-5274
ALAN DEIDUN
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6919-5374
Abstract

In the Maltese Islands, insufficient attention has been paid to vermetid reefs, endemic Mediterranean bioconstructions widely distributed along the southern part of the basin. As a result, this is a largely-overlooked coastal ecosystem despite the multitude of
ecosystem services it provides. The perennial urban development in the Maltese Islands calls for the adoption of urgent action to protect coastal habitats, in particular bioconstructions that increase biodiversity and contribute to mitigating the effects of climate
change. The objective of our study was to extensively document the presence and typology of the vermetid reef ecosystems along
the coast of Malta and Gozo, assessing the occurrence of putative anthropogenic threats on the same ecosystem. Quantitative measurements were additionally taken to morphologically characterize the recorded bioconstructions. Furthermore, we tested the
human pressure effect on the density of vermetid individuals and associated biodiversity. “True” trottoirs were only documented
along the south-east coast of Malta, where unfortunately land reclamation projects are expected to be implemented. Although no direct relation between a number of assessed human activities and the density of vermetid individuals was reported in the current study, we suggest the conduction of further studies to investigate the influence of specific disturbances on the conservation status of this ecosystem. This study expands the existing knowledge on the status of vermetid reefs in the Maltese Islands and calls for management and conservation actions to preserve this bioconstruction.

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