2 characteristic and accompanying species etc. PREMISEMediterranean marine benthic habitats were incorporated into the EUNIS habitat classification in early 2000sMediterranean 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.
3 The zoning in the Mediterranean benthic habitat classification 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).S = supralittoral: reached by seaspray and never submerged .M= mesolitoral: determined by high and low tideI= infralittoral: extends from lower limit of the tide until max depth where photosynthesys of Posidonia oceanica and photophilic algae occursC= circalittoral: deepest phytal (where plant life can occur) zone; lower limit determined by shelf breakB= bathyal: characterised by slope of continental shelf marginA= abyssal: starts where slope angle changes into flattened area
4 (UNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1) Which habitat reference list was taken into account when the habitats were first inserted into EUNIS?“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 UNEP’s Barcelona Conventionaim of the document: define a list of univocal assemblages existing in the Mediterranean, and then identify those with highest conservation interestUNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1
5 Tot. number of Bioceonosis Tot. N° facies/ associations “Barcelona Convention” classification system recognizes the existence of distinct bioceonosis and facies/associations occurring univocally in each biological zoneZoneTot. number of BioceonosisTot. N° facies/ associationsSupralittoral47Mesolittoral619Infralittoral965Circalittoral834Bathyal5Abyssal1Total32130UNEP (OCA)/MED WG 149/5 Rev. 1EUNIS LEVEL -2 GROUPINGTOTAL n. habitatsA122A29A337A423A559A6B21B32TOTAL162All the main Mediterranean benthic habitats listed by Barcelona Convention have been incorporated into EUNIS (ETC/BD activity).
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.-These can be revised within the framework of the revision effort of point a) above.
7 Proposal for discussion and future work What updates are needed? (cont.)c) any recent knowledge on new habitats needing amendment in EUNIS?EUSeaMap1 (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 sediments BathyalA6.4 Deep sea muddy sand BathyalA6.2 Deep sea mixed sediments Abyssal zoneA6.3 Deep sea sand Abyssal zoneA6.4 Deep sea muddy sand Abyssal zoneThough 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.1Cameron, A. and Askew, N. (eds.) EUSeaMap - Preparatory Action for development and assessment of a European broad-scale seabed habitat map final report. Available at
8 Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the system’s structure functional to future application1) 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.Let’s look at this a little more in detail……………
9 Littoral rock & other hard substrata Biological ZoneSupralittoral(S)Mesolittoral(M)Infralittoral (I)Circalittoral( C )Bathyal (B)Abyssal(A)Mud135Muddy sands and mud2Sandy mud, sand, cobbles and rock12Sand134Boulder and cobblesRock153518Posidonia oceanicaSubstrate categoryEUNIS II LevelLittoral rock & other hard substrataA1Littoral sedimentA2Infralittoral rockA3Circalittoral rockA4Sublittoral sedimentA5Deep-sea bedA6B2B3B1Coastalhabitats
10 Infralittoral and circalittoral soft bottoms are all listed under A5 Supralittoral(S)Mesolittoral(M)Infralittoral (I)Circalittoral( C )Bathyal (B)Abyssal(A)Mud135Muddy sands and mud2Sandy mud, sand, cobbles and rock12Sand134Boulder and cobblesRock153518Posidonia oceanicaLittoral rock & other hard substrataA1Littoral sedimentA2Infralittoral rockA3Circalittoral rockA4Sublittoral sedimentA5Deep-sea bedA6Infralittoral and circalittoral soft bottoms are all listed under A5Bathyal and abyssal, soft and hard bottoms are all listed under A6B2B3B1Coastalhabitats
11 Differentiation per gross substrate Lev.Group categories1A Marine2A 1Littoral rockA2Littoral sedimentA3Infralittoral rockA4Circalittoral rockA5Sublittoral sedimentA6Deep sea3A1.1High energy litt. rockA2.1Littoral coarse sedimentA2.2Littoral sand and muddy sandA3.1Atl. & Med. high energy infralittoral rockA3.2Atl. & Med. moderate energy littoral rockA4.2Atl. & Med. moderate energyA5.1Sublitt. coarse sedimentA5.2Sublitt. sandA5.4Sublitt. mixed sedimentsA6.1Deep sea rockA6.5Deep sea mud4A1.13Med. comm. upper mediolitt. rockA2.13 Med. comm. mediolitt. coarse detr.A2.25Med. comm. mediolitt. sandsA3.13Med. comm. very exposed waveA4.26Med. comm. Mod. exposed waveA5.13Infralittoral coarse sed.A5.23Infralittoral fine sandA5.47Med. comm. shelf-edge detritic bottomsA6.51Med. comm. bathyal mudsA6.52Comm. abyssal muds5A1.131 Ass. B. atropurpureaA2.251Facies O. bicornisA3.132 Ass. C. amentaceaA4.265 Association Sargassum spp.A5.138 Ass. with rodolithesA5.235 Med. comm. fine sands shallow watersA5.471 Facies L. phalangiumA6.511Facies T. muricata6Facies with L. medit.Differentiation per gross substrateDifferentiation per gross substrate (hard vs. soft)Differentiation per biological zone
12 Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the system’s structure functional to future application (cont.)2) Considerations on the hiearchical subdivisions at level 2 and 3Proposal: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 Proposal for discussion and future work Considerations on the system’s structure functional to future application (cont.)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.