A guide on environmental monitoring of rocky seabeds in mediterranean marine protected areas and



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A GUIDE ON ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING 

OF ROCKY SEABEDS IN MEDITERRANEAN 

MARINE PROTECTED  AREAS AND 

SURROUNDING ZONES

José Carlos García-Gómez

Marine Biology Laboratory

Faculty of Biology - University of Seville

R+D+I Biological Research Area - Seville Aquarium 

Published in English

French and Spanish

                                 

project

MedMPAnet



The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this document do not imply the expression of any 

opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA concerning the legal status of any State, Territory, city or 

area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of their frontiers or boundaries. The views expressed in this 

publication do not necessarily reflect those of UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA.



Published by: RAC/SPA

Copyright First Edition: © 2015 - RAC/SPA

Reproduction of this publication for educational or other non-commercial purposes is authorized without prior 

written permission from the copyright holder provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of this 

publication for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written permission of the copyright 

holder.

For bibliographic purposes, this volume may be cited as:

RAC/SPA - UNEP/MAP, 2015. A guide on environmental monitoring of rocky seabeds in Mediterranean Marine 

Protected Areas and surrounding zones. By José Carlos GARCÍA-GÓMEZ. Marine Biology Laboratory, Department 

of Zoology, Faculty of Biology, University of Seville. R+D+I Biological Research Area, Seville Aquarium. Ed. RAC/

SPA - MedMPAnet Project, Tunis: 482 pages + annexes.

Layout: Joaquín MATEOS CASADO, José Carlos GARCÍA-GÓMEZ, Alexandre Roi GONZÁLEZ ARANDA 

and Zine El Abidine MAHJOUB.



Cover photo credit: José Carlos GARCÍA-GÓMEZ.

Photos credits: José Carlos GARCÍA-GÓMEZ and others (see page 3).

This document has been elaborated within the framework of the Regional Project for the Development of a 

Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (MPAs) Network through the boosting of Mediterranean MPAs 

Creation and Management (MedMPAnet Project).

The MedMPAnet Project is implemented in the framework of the UNEP/MAP-GEF MedPartnership, with the 

financial support of EC, AECID and FFEM.



A GUIDE ON ENVIRONMENTAL 

MONITORING OF ROCKY SEABEDS IN 

MEDITERRANEAN MARINE PROTECTED 

AREAS AND SURROUNDING ZONES.

A guide on the identification and monitoring of disturbance-sensitive, benthic 

(rocky seabeds), sessile target species for scientific, professional and recreational 

divers, academics working in the area, specialized businesses and public authorities 

connected to the environment and all involved actors in the management,

 impact assessment, monitoring and conservation of coastal environment.

José Carlos García-Gómez

Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Zoology,

Faculty of Biology, University of Seville

R+D+I Biological Research Area, Seville Aquarium 

First Edition (english) published in Spain: 2015

Published by:

 RAC/SPA

ISBN:


 978-84-608-1488-7

Legal Deposit: 

SE-1270-2015

Printed by: 

Coria Gráfica, S.L.

Layout and typesetting:

 Joaquín Mateos Casado, José Carlos García-Gómez, 

 

 



           Alexander Roi González Aranda

Copyright First Edition (english):

 © 2015, RAC/SPA

 

Author:



 José Carlos García-Gómez

Figures: 

Alexandre Roi González Aranda and José Carlos García Gómez


Photos:

- José Carlos GARCÍA-GÓMEZ (JCGG): 1- 71, 73-77, 92, 93, 95-99, 104-118, 122, 124-134, 138-

161, 164-184, 187-189, 191-195, 204-211, 214-230, 232-235, 237-239, 245-247, 249, 250, 257-273, 

276-280, 282-284, 285-295, 307-313, 316-341, 343, 344, 346, 349, 351-363, 367, 372, 374, 379-389, 

394-404, 406-441, 444, 447, 448-460, 462-470, 472-528, 530-537, 540-549, 552- 559, 561-579.



- Ignacio BÁRBARA (IB): 119-121, 123, 135, 137, 296, 297, 299, 300-304.

- Luis SÁNCHEZ TOCINO (LS): 226, 369, 371, 378, 390-392, 393, 445, 446, 461. 

- Salvador MAGARIÑO (SM): 81, 82, 185, 231, 370, 373, 538, 539, 544, 550, 551, 560.

- Vincent MARAN (doris.ffessm.fr): 101, 163, 199-201, 205, 240, 249, 281, 283.

- Manuel MARTÍNEZ CHACÓN (MM): 72, 79, 87-89, 90.

- Alexandre Roi GONZÁLEZ, Manu MAESTRE, Free ESPINOSA (R-M-F): 94, 186, 190, 314, 

315, 342, 554.



- Dominique HORST (doris.ffessm.fr): 242, 243, 251, 252, 377, 443.

- Denis ADER (doris.ffessm.fr): 265, 267, 274, 275.

- Frédéric ANDRE (doris.ffessm.fr): 247, 248, 256, 345, 375.

- Julio DE LA ROSA (JR): 347, 348, 350.

- Rocío ESPADA (RE): 83, 84, 85.

- Cesar MEGINA (CM): 196-198. 

- Alfonso RAMOS (AR): 244, 246, 248.

- Frédéric ZIEMSKI (doris.ffessm.fr): 253-255.

- María ALTAMIRANO (MA): 103, 298.

- José Manuel ÁVILA (JA): 442, 471.

- Enric BALLESTEROS (EB): 305, 306.

- David FENWICK (www.aphotomarine.com): 100, 102.

- Keith HISCOCK: 162, 203. 

- Jorge MARTIN (JM):  236, 543.

- Véronique LAMARE (doris.ffessm.fr): 349, 368.

- Javier PELLÓN (JP): 405.

- Uwe ACOSTA (UA): 91.

- Patrick HEURTEAUX (doris.ffessm.fr): 241.

- Macarena ROS (MR): 202.

- Ricardo BERMEJO (RB): 136.

- ERWIN et al. (2011): 376. (In Bibliography).

- Joao Pedro SILVA (JS): 529.

- Palma DEL VALLE (PV): 86.

- Club de Buceo Campo de Gibraltar/ Club Náutico de La Línea (CBCG-CNLL): 78.

- CIES Sub Algeciras (CIES): 80.

A guide on environmental monitoring of rocky 

seabeds in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas 

and surrounding zones.

Dedicated to Liliana

CONTENTS

PRESENTATION OF THE GUIDE ….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

15 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 17 

1. PREFACE

….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

21 

1.1. Background  .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

22 

1.2. Objectives and justification …….…….…….…….…….…… 

24 

1.3. Target audience or, who is this guide written for? ….…… 

28

2. DETECTION OF UNDERWATER IMPACTS, 

     A COMPLEX QUESTION ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

31

3. BENTHOS VERSUS PLANKTON AND NEKTON - 

     WHY IS BENTHOS BETTER?  …….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

35

4. ENVIRONMENTAL BIOINDICATORS AND BENTHOS,

    A RICH VEIN OF INFORMATION …….…….…….…….…….…… 

39

4.1. The concept of bioindicators and their emerging role …… 

40 

4.2. The benthos, a large catalog of indicator species ….…… 

41

4.3. Tolerant vs. sensitive species, the point of departure …… 

42

5. TARGET SPECIES SELECTION: IMMOBILITY 

    (SESSILE SPECIES), LARGE SIZE AND ABUNDANCE, 

    THE KEY ASPECTS …….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

45 

5.1. Substrate-attached sessile bioindicator selection criteria 

       (the most appropriate) .…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

46

5.2. Marine phanerogam meadows .…….…….…….…….…… 

51 

6. COMPLEMENTARY BIOINDICATORS …….…….…….…….…… 

55

6.1. Invasive species .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

56

6.2. Sensitive vagile species ….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

58

6.3. Sessile species with fragile calcareous skeletons ….…… 

59

7. GEOGRAPHICAL ENVIRONMENT, ZONING AND BIOSTRATA  

61  

8. IMPACTS ON SEABEDS AND INTERTIDAL BIOTA ….…….…… 

67

        8.1. Undisturbed vs. disturbed seabeds ….…….…….…….…… 

68

8.2. Undisturbed seabeds and their identification

.…….…… 

69

8.3. Disturbed seabeds and their identification …….…….…… 

75

8.4. Vertical and horizontal enclaves  …….…….…….…….…… 

79

8.5. Infralapidicolar enclaves and their inversion consequences  83 

8.6. Undisturbed and disturbed infralapidicolar enclaves …….  

85

8.7. Submerged or partially submerged marine caves ….…… 

88

8.8. Algal blooms …….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

90

8.9. Epibiosis (organisms living attached to others) …….…… 

92

8.10. Nets, anchors, divers and uninstructed passers-by.…… 

96

8.11. Unacceptable waste .…….…….…….…….…….…….…… 

99

9.  SBPQ METHOD OF UNDERWATER ENVIRONMENTAL 

    MONITORING: TEMPORAL MONITORING OF SESSILE 

     BIOINDICATOR SPECIES IN PERMANENT QUADRATS .……  103

10. TOLERANT OR EURIOIC BENTHIC (SESSILE) SPECIES .……  121

Macroalgues

10.1. Codium bursa ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 124 

10.2. Codium vermilara .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 126 

10.3. Ulva compressa ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 128

10.4. Ulva lactuca .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 130

10.5. Ulva rigida….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 132

10.6. Asparagopsis armata….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 134

10.7. Asparagopsis taxiformis  ….…….…….…….…….…….… 136

10.8. Caulacanthus ustulatus  …….…….…….…….…….…….… 138

10.9.  Ellisolandia elongata .…….…….…….…….…….…….… 140

10.10. Gelidium pusillum ….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 142

10.11. Chondracanthus acicularis .…….…….…….…….…….… 144

10.12. Lithophyllum incrustans ….…….…….…….…….…….… 146

10.13. Mesophyllum alternans  ….…….…….…….…….…….… 148

10.14. Padina pavonica .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 150

10.15. Pterocladiella capillacea ….…….…….…….…….…….… 152

10.16. Plocamium cartilagineum .…….…….…….…….…….… 154

10.17. Ectocarpus spp.  .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 156

10.18. Halopteris scoparia….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 158

10.19. Sargassum vulgare ….…….…….…….…….…….…….… 160



Sponges

10.20. Cliona celata ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   164

10.21. Cliona viridis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   166

10.22. Crambe crambe .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   168

10.23. Crella elegans….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   170

10.24. Hymeniacidon perlevis ….…….…….…….…….…….   172

10.25. Oscarella lobularis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   174

10.26. Spongia agaricina ….…….…….…….…….…….…….  176



Cnidarians, Anthozoans

10.27. Actinothoe sphyrodeta 



….…….…….…….…….…….   180

10.28. Anemonia sulcata …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   182

10.29. Balanophyllia regia ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   184

10.30. Eunicella singularis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   186

10.31. Leptogorgia lusitanica 

….…….…….…….…….…….   188

10.32. Leptogorgia sarmentosa ….…….…….…….…….…….   190



Cnidarians, Hydrozoans

10.33. Eudendrium carneum  …….…….…….…….…….…….   194

10.34. Eudendrium racemosum  .…….…….…….…….…….   196

10.35. Obelia dichotoma  ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   198



Bryozoans

10.36. Bugula neritina .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   200

10.37. Myriapora truncata ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   202

10.38. Omalosecosa ramulosa ….…….…….…….…….…….   204

10.39. Pentapora fascialis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   206

10.40. Schizobrachiella sanguinea  …….…….…….…….…….   208

10.41. Smittina cervicornis  .…….…….…….…….…….…….   210

Annelids

10.42. Sabella pavonina …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   212

10.43. Sabella spallanzanii

.…….…….…….…….…….…….   214

10.44. Salmacina dysteri …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   216

10.45. Serpula vermicularis .…….…….…….…….…….…….   218

Ascidians

10.46. Microcosmus nudistigma ….…….…….…….…….…….   222

10.47. Microcosmus polymorphus .…….…….…….…….…….   224


10.48. Microcosmus squamiger ….…….…….…….…….…….   226

10.49. Microcosmus vulgaris  …….…….…….…….…….…….   228

10.50. Pyura dura .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   230

10.51. Pyura microcosmus ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   232

10.52. Pyura squamulosa  ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   234

10.53. Pyura tessellata  .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   236

10.54. Polycarpa pomaria ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   238

10.55. Botrylloides leachii ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   240

10.56. Phallusia fumigata ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   242

10.57. Clavelina lepadiformis …….…….…….…….…….…….   244

10.58. Pycnoclavella nana ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   246

10.59. Diplosoma listerianum …….…….…….…….…….…….   248

10.60. Diplosoma spongiforme ….…….…….…….…….…….   250

10.61. Trididemnum cereum .…….…….…….…….…….…….   252

10.62. Aplidium turbinatum .…….…….…….…….…….…….   254

10.63. Morchellium argus ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   256

10.64. Synoicum blochmanni …….…….…….…….…….…….   258

11. SENSITIVE OR STENOIC BENTHIC (SESSILE) SPECIES 

Macroalgues

11.1. Palmophyllum crassum .…….…….…….…….…….…….   264

11.2. Cystoseira baccata …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   266

11.3. Cystoseira nodicaulis



.…….…….…….…….…….…….   268

11.4. Cystoseira amentacea var. stricta .…….…….…….…….   270

11.5. Cystoseira tamariscifolia ….…….…….…….…….…….   272

11.6. Cystoseira usneoides….…….…….…….…….…….…….   274

11.7. Fucus spiralis …….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   276

11.8. Halopteris filicina .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   278

11.9. Laminaria ochroleuca .…….…….…….…….…….…….   280

11.10. Phyllariopsis brevipes .…….…….…….…….…….…….   282

11.11. Saccorhiza polyschides ….…….…….…….…….…….   284

11.12. Gelidium corneum  ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   286

11.13. Halichrysis depressa  .…….…….…….…….…….…….   288

11.14. Osmundea pinnatifida.…….…….…….…….…….…….   290

11.15. Lithophyllum byssoides ….…….…….…….…….…….   292

11.16. Mesophyllum expansum ….…….…….…….…….…….   294

11.17. Peyssonnelia rosa-marina .…….…….…….…….…….   296

11.18. Peyssonnelia rubra ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   298

11.19. Peyssonnelia squamaria ….…….…….…….…….…….   300

11.20. Sphaerococcus coronopifolius….…….…….…….…….   302



Marine phanerogams

11.21. Cymodocea nodosa….…….…….…….…….…….…….   306

11.22. Posidonia oceanica ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   310

Sponges

11.23. Aplysina aerophoba



.…….…….…….…….…….…….   316

11.24. Axinella damicornis….…….…….…….…….…….…….   318

11.25. Axinella polypoides….…….…….…….…….…….…….   320

11.26. Haliclona fulva….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   322

11.27. Ircinia oros .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   324

11.28. Sarcotragus spinosulus …….…….…….…….…….…….   326



Cnidarians, Anthozoans

11.29. Actinia equina ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   328

11.30. Alicia mirabilis

.…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   330

11.31. Ellisella paraplexauroides .…….…….…….…….…….   332

11.32. Astroides calycularis .…….…….…….…….…….…….   334

11.33. Dendrophyllia ramea .…….…….…….…….…….…….   338

11.34. Leptopsammia pruvoti …….…….…….…….…….…….   340

11.35. Phyllangia americana mouchezii.…….…….…….…….   342

11.36. Corallium rubrum ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   344

11.37. Paramuricea clavata



.…….…….…….…….…….…….   348

11.38. Parazoanthus axinellae …….…….…….…….…….…….   352



Cnidarians, Hydrozoans 

11.39. Aglaophenia spp. 



….…….…….…….…….…….…….   356

11.40. Gymnangium montagui  ….…….…….…….…….…….   358



11.41. Pseudoplumaria marocana .…….…….…….…….…….   360 

11.42. Sertularella spp. .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   362



Bryozoans

11.43. Adeonella calveti …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   366

11.44. Bicellariella ciliata ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   368

11.45. Caberea boryi….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   370

11.46. Cellaria spp.  ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   372

11.47. Chartella spp.  ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   374

11.48. Reteporella spp.  .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   376

Annelids (sessile species)

11.49. Bispira volutacornis….…….…….…….…….…….…….   380



Molluscs (sessile species)

11.50. Dendropoma petraeum ….…….…….…….…….…….   382 

11.51. Pinna nobilis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   386

11.52. Pinna rudis .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   388



Ascidians

11.53. Halocynthia papillosa .…….…….…….…….…….…….   392

11.54. Stolonica socialis …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   394

11.55. Clavelina dellavallei .…….…….…….…….…….…….   398

11.56. Polysyncraton lacazei .…….…….…….…….…….…….   400

11.57. Aplidium conicum ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   402

11.58. Aplidium punctum ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   406

11.59. Pseudodistoma obscurum .…….…….…….…….…….   408

11.60. Polycitor adriaticus ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   410

11.61. Polycitor crystallinus .…….…….…….…….…….…….   412



12. COMPLEMENTARY SENSITIVE BENTHIC SPECIES …….……  415 

Molluscs

12.1. Patella ferruginea  …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   418

12.2. Lithophaga lithophaga  .…….…….…….…….…….…….   422

12.3. Charonia lampas lampas ….…….…….…….…….…….   424



Echinoderms

12.4. Antedon mediterranea .…….…….…….…….…….…….   428

12.5. Astrospartus mediterraneus .…….…….…….…….…….   430

12.6. Centrostephanus longispinus …….…….…….…….…….   432

12.7. Gracilechinus acutus ….…….…….…….…….…….…….   434

12.8. Echinus melo …….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   436

12.9. Ophidiaster ophidianus …….…….…….…….…….…….   438

Fishes

12.10. Apogon imberbis …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   442

12.11. Thalassoma pavo …….…….…….…….…….…….…….   444

12.12. Anthias anthias



.…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   446

12.13. Phycis phycis ….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….   450



13. BIBLIOGRAPHY .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….……  453

14. APPENDIX .…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….…….……  483

PRESENTATION OF THE GUIDE

M

arine Protected Areas are increasingly becoming an important 



management tool to conserve the marine biodiversity and to protect 

natural resources, globally. 

Monitoring is an essential component of resource management by providing 

science-based information to guide key management decisions like prioritizing 

conservation strategies, proper allocation of resources, and ultimately, whether 

or not these marine protected areas are meeting their intended objectives.

At Mediterranean level, the monitoring of habitats and species does not seem 

to be a common practice in Marine Protected Areas and its surrounding areas. 

Therefore, The Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention are currently 

working to implement an Ecosystem Approach in the Region with the ultimate 

objective of achieving the Good Ecological Status (GES) of the Mediterranean 

Sea. They act for establishing a new monitoring program in line with the 

Ecosystem Approach. This will enable for the first time a quantitative monitoring 

of the status of the Mediterranean Sea on a regional basis, covering biodiversity 

and non-indigenous species. Mediterranean countries are however in need of 

diverse technical tools, including guides, to assist that process.

The present guide is intended to provide technical guidance to all actors at 

different levels in developing site-based monitoring plans to complement 

existing management plans or in developing new ones. It aims to set up a 

methodological tool for environmental and ecological monitoring of Marine 

Protected Areas and for littoral seabeds of surrounding areas, given their role 

as buffer zones between Marine Protected Areas and more distant anthropized 

zones. 

Furthermore, it will enable promoting the creation of a network of underwater 



sentinel stations to act as an environmental monitoring and warning system 

helping to detect changes in the littoral ecosystem and the seascape it forms 

with its fauna and flora.

Finally, this methodological tool aims to standardize monitoring across rocky 

seabeds in Marine Protected Areas by providing guidance on monitoring 

objectives, sampling design, indicators, and methodology. It was developed 

for Marine Protected Areas managers, including conservation officers and 

researchers who collect monitoring data but also for an ample collection of 

divers, both recreational and professionally certified, as well as any stakeholder 

enthusiastic about underwater wildlife and wishing to contribute towards its 

environmental monitoring and conservation. 


Phot. 1: the Strait of Gibraltar, location where the majority of the observations presented in this 

guide were made. In the background, the African continent and the Moroccan mountain Jebel 

Musa, trademark landscape of the southern littoral border of the Strait.

JCGG


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