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EUNIS and Mediterranean marine habitats Sabrina Agnesi, Giulia Mo, Leonardo Tunesi ISPRA - Rome, Italy (ETC-BD partner) The EUNIS habitat classification,

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Presentation on theme: "EUNIS and Mediterranean marine habitats Sabrina Agnesi, Giulia Mo, Leonardo Tunesi ISPRA - Rome, Italy (ETC-BD partner) The EUNIS habitat classification,"— Presentation transcript:

1 EUNIS and Mediterranean marine habitats Sabrina Agnesi, Giulia Mo, Leonardo Tunesi ISPRA - Rome, Italy (ETC-BD partner) The EUNIS habitat classification, governance & future developments 3-4 October, 2011 European Environment Agency, Copenhagen

2 Mediterranean marine benthic habitats were incorporated into the EUNIS habitat classification in early 2000s Mediterranean habitats (biocenoesis, facies and associations) were inserted into the hierarchical system based on an analysis of their known characteristics with respect to a specific EUNIS template. Aspects which were considered in the process were known determining parameters for each habitat type distribution such as: - depth zone, - substrate type, - energy, - characteristic and accompanying species etc. PREMISE

3 Biological communities fall within specific biological zones determined by delimiting parameters such as: exposure to seawater and spray (for the shallow superficial zones), amount of light reaching the seabottom, and slope angle change (for the deepest zones). The zoning in the Mediterranean benthic habitat classification S = supralittoral: reached by seaspray and never submerged. M= mesolitoral: determined by high and low tide I= infralittoral: extends from lower limit of the tide until max depth where photosynthesys of Posidonia oceanica and photophilic algae occurs C= circalittoral: deepest phytal (where plant life can occur) zone; lower limit determined by shelf break B= bathyal: characterised by slope of continental shelf margin A= abyssal: starts where slope angle changes into flattened area

4 Classification of benthic marine Habitat types for the Mediterranean Region (UNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1) -a habitat revision collated under the frame work of the SPA/BIO secretariat of UNEPs Barcelona Convention - aim of the document: define a list of univocal assemblages existing in the Mediterranean, and then identify those with highest conservation interest Which habitat reference list was taken into account when the habitats were first inserted into EUNIS? UNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1

5 Zone Tot. number of Bioceonosis Tot. N° facies/ associations Supralittoral47 Mesolittoral619 Infralittoral965 Circalittoral834 Bathyal45 Abyssal1 Total32130 UNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1 All the main Mediterranean benthic habitats listed by Barcelona Convention have been incorporated into EUNIS (ETC/BD activity). EUNIS LEVEL -2 GROUPING TOTAL n. habitats A122 A29 A337 A423 A559 A69 B21 B32 TOTAL162 Barcelona Convention classification system recognizes the existence of distinct bioceonosis and facies/associations occurring univocally in each biological zone

6 Proposal for discussion and future work What updates are needed? a) Some of the existing text definitions present in the system could be enriched to the benefit of the user. Proposal: -Provide a more thorough text definition for some of the presently listed Med habitat types. -Upload this into the system. Note: at the moment ISPRA has revised most habitat text definitions (covered up to part of the circalittoral) and with minor effort remaining deeper habitats can be defined. b) It is possible that some small assemblages may have been ignored in the Barcelona convention habitat recognition process (i.e. facies of Mytilus galloprovincialis in polluted waters). These should be inserted as new entries. Proposal: -These can be revised within the framework of the revision effort of point a) above.

7 What updates are needed? (cont.) c) any recent knowledge on new habitats needing amendment in EUNIS? EUSeaMap 1 (DG-Mare funded project) identified new habitats in Mediterranean deep waters. These were given a general existing EUNIS code as follows: A6.2 Deep sea mixed sedimentsBathyal A6.4 Deep sea muddy sandBathyal A6.2 Deep sea mixed sedimentsAbyssal zone A6.3 Deep sea sand Abyssal zone A6.4 Deep sea muddy sandAbyssal zone Though they need to be studied from a biological community point of view, the project shows their existence in the region and they have different characteristics in terms of depth zones. Proposal: Modify category A6 (deep sea) into two broad categories that would account for the different substrate types according to distinct biological zones. 1 Cameron, A. and Askew, N. (eds.) EUSeaMap - Preparatory Action for development and assessment of a European broad-scale seabed habitat map final report. Available at Proposal for discussion and future work

8 Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the systems structure functional to future application 1) All main Barcelona convention habitats are presently fitted into EUNIS. The EUNIS habitat classification objective to give a nomenclature code to each habitat /community known to exist in European waters has been reached ( except for minor updates and modifications of points a & b before). 2) Usage of the hierarchical positioning of each habitat type to draw comparisons amongst habitats that are grouped in similar hierarchical ranking groupings can currently lead to non homogenous habitat considerations for Mediterranean habitats (i.e. when proposing that habitats be monitored or mapped etc. at a given set EUNIS level). Why? Criteria guiding the subdivision at some of the level 2 and 3 are not homogenous between groups. This leads to ecologically uneven subdivisions amongst some A2 and A3 groupings (i.e. habitat groupings are not being differentiated with a similar approach - i.e. major substrate – hard vs. soft, and depth zone –infralittoral, circalittoral, bathyal, abyssal). This is particularly evident in the way Mediterranean habitats fit in EUNIS. Lets look at this a little more in detail……………

9 Supralittoral (S) Mesolittoral (M) Infralittoral (I) Circalittoral ( C ) Bathyal (B) Abyssal (A) Mud Muddy sands and mud 12 Sandy mud, sand, cobbles and rock 112 Sand Sand 413 Sand 1 Boulder and cobbles Rock Rock 135 Rock 318 Rock 2 Posidonia oceanica 14 Substrate category EUNIS II Level B2 B3 B1 Coastal habitats Biological Zone Littoral rock & other hard substrata A1 Littoral sediment A2 Infralittoral rock A3 Circalittoral rock A4 Sublittoral sediment A5 Deep-sea bed A6

10 Supralittoral (S) Mesolittoral (M) Infralittoral (I) Circalittoral ( C ) Bathyal (B) Abyssal (A) Mud Muddy sands and mud 12 Sandy mud, sand, cobbles and rock 112 Sand Sand 413 Sand 1 Boulder and cobbles Rock Rock 135 Rock 318 Rock 2 Posidonia oceanica 14 B2 B3 B1 Coastal habitats Littoral rock & other hard substrata A1 Littoral sediment A2 Infralittoral rock A3 Circalittoral rock A4 Sublittoral sediment A5 Deep-sea bed A6 Infralittoral and circalittoral soft bottoms are all listed under A5 Bathyal and abyssal, soft and hard bottoms are all listed under A6

11 Lev. Group categories 1 A Marine 2 A 1 Littoral rock A2 Littoral sediment A3 Infralittoral rock A4 Circalittor al rock A5 Sublittoral sediment A6 Deep sea 3 A1.1 High energy litt. rock A2.1 Littoral coarse sedimen t A2.2 Littoral sand and muddy sand A3.1 Atl. & Med. high energy infralittor al rock A3.2 Atl. & Med. moderate energy littoral rock A4.2 Atl. & Med. moderate energy A5.1 Sublitt. coarse sediment A5.2 Sublitt. sand A5.4 Sublitt. mixed sediments A6.1 Deep sea rock A6.5 Deep sea mud 4 A1.13 Med. comm. upper mediolitt. rock A2.13 Med. comm. mediolitt. coarse detr. A2.25 Med. comm. mediolitt. sands A3.13 Med. comm. very exposed wave A4.26 Med. comm. Mod. exposed wave A5.13 Infralittoral coarse sed. A5.23 Infralittor al fine sand A5.47 Med. comm. shelf-edge detritic bottoms A6.51 Med. comm. bathyal muds A6.52 Comm. abyssal muds 5 A1.131 Ass. B. atropurp urea A2.251 Facies O. bicornis A3.132 Ass. C. amentace a A4.265 Associati on Sargassu m spp. A5.138 Ass. with rodolithes A5.235 Med. comm. fine sands shallow waters A5.471 Facies L. phalangiu m A6.511 Facies T. muricata 6 Facies with L. medit. Differentiation per biological zone Differentiation per gross substrate Differentiation per gross substrate (hard vs. soft)

12 Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the systems structure functional to future application (cont.) 2) Considerations on the hiearchical subdivisions at level 2 and 3 Proposal: Would it be possible to subdivide A5 (sublittoral sediments) into two distinct level 2 categories: infralittoral and circalittoral? Would it be possible to differentiate A6 (deep sea) into three distinct level 2 categories: - Bathyal rock - Bathyal sediments - Abyssal sediments

13 3) EUNIS habitat classification is the most exhaustive database tool containing updated description on the characteristics of all marine habitats across European seas. This habitat coding will allow wide-range mapping initiatives which will produce cartographies using a univocal habitat coding language. This will allow to visualize the spatial extent of each habitat /community type in Europe and show how the European habitat biodiversity is distributed and abundant throughout space. It will take some time for this to happen throughout all of Europe. Meanwhile, can we enrich the system, and then interrogate it so as to evaluate which components of habitat diversity are present/absent in the different geographic seas? Proposal: This could be done by inserting a flag-up option per biogeographic sea in every habitat definition that we have so far inserted. Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the systems structure functional to future application (cont.)


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