Ecological status of coralligenous assemblages: Ten years of application of the ESCA index from local to wide scale validation

Type Article
Date 2021-02
Language English
Author(s) Piazzi L.1, Gennaro P.2, Cecchi E.3, Bianchi C.N.4, Cinti M.F.1, Gatti G.5, Guala I.6, Morri C.4, Sartoretto StephaneORCID7, Serena F.8, Montefalcone M.4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Sassari, Via Piandanna 4, 07100 Sassari, Italy
2 : Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA ex ICRAM), Via di Castel Romano 100, 00128 Roma, Italy
3 : ARPAT - Regional Agency for the Environmental Protection of Tuscany, Via Marradi 114, 57126 Livorno, Italy
4 : DiSTAV (Department of Earth, Environment and Life Sciences), University of Genoa, Corso Europa 26, 16132 Genoa, Italy
5 : Station Marine d'Endoume, Chemin de la Batterie des Lions, 13007 Marseille, France
6 : IMC - International Marine Centre, Loc. Sa Mardini, Torregrande, 09170 Oristano, Italy
7 : IFREMER, Zone Portuaire de Brégaillon, CS 20 330 83507 La Seyne-sur-mer Cedex, France
8 : CNR-IRBIM, Via Vaccara 61, 91026 Mazara del Vallo (TP), Italy
Source Ecological Indicators (1470-160X) (Elsevier BV), 2021-02 , Vol. 121 , P. 107077 (9p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.107077
WOS© Times Cited 19
Keyword(s) Coralligenous reefs, Ecological index, Impact evaluation, Mediterranean Sea, Monitoring

This paper aims at collating and reviewing all data collected using the ESCA (Ecological Status of Coralligenous Assemblages) index from 2009 to 2018 during different local applications, in order to evaluate at large spatial scale its effectiveness and temporal variability. To this scope, the large-scale response of ESCA to anthropogenic disturbance was tested comparing ESCA values calculated at 42 sites of the Western Mediterranean Sea with the anthropization index. Moreover, the sensitivity of ESCA to punctual human disturbance and the robustness of the index across the natural space and time variability were evaluated. The large spatial scale study showed significant correlation between ESCA and the anthropization index, while very low correlation was detected when descriptors of ESCA (i.e., sensitivity levels, α-diversity, and β-diversity) were considered separately. The three impact evaluation studies highlighted significantly lower values of the ESCA index in disturbed conditions than in the control ones. The coastal monitoring study confirmed the robustness of the index which showed a high ecological quality of coralligenous reefs in reference conditions compared to more anthropized sites, and this pattern was maintained throughout the ten years study period. Application of the ESCA index to different situations tested positively its sensibility to different levels and type of human disturbance and its stability with respect to regional spatio-temporal variability. This confirm the reliability of the ESCA index already tested on the local and annual scale, thus broadening its range of application and validating it on a wider space–time scale.

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Piazzi L., Gennaro P., Cecchi E., Bianchi C.N., Cinti M.F., Gatti G., Guala I., Morri C., Sartoretto Stephane, Serena F., Montefalcone M. (2021). Ecological status of coralligenous assemblages: Ten years of application of the ESCA index from local to wide scale validation. Ecological Indicators, 121, 107077 (9p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :