Biodiversity and Ecosystem (EO 1)

Common Indicator 1: Habitat distributional range & Common Indicator 2: Condition of the habitat’s typical species and communities

Geographical scale of the assessment:
Regional, Mediterranean Sea
Contributing countries:
Mid-Term Strategy (MTS) Core Theme:
2-Biodiversity and Ecosystems
Ecological Objective:
EO1: Biological diversity is maintained or enhanced. The quality and occurrence of coastal and marine habitats and the distribution and abundance of coastal and marine species are in line with prevailing physiographic, hydrographic, geographic and climatic conditions.
IMAP Common Indicator:
Common Indicator 1 (CI1): Habitat distributional range
Common Indicator 2 (CI2): Condition of the habitat’s typical species and communities
Indicator Assessment Factsheet Code:

GES Definition (CI1): The habitat is present in all its natural distributional range.  

GES Targets (CI1):

  • State: The ratio Natural / observed distributional range tends to 1.
  • Pressure: Decrease in the main human causes of the habitat decline.

GES Definition (CI2): The population size and density of the habitat-defining species, and species composition of the community, are within reference conditions ensuring the long-term maintenance of the Habitat.

GES Targets (CI2):

  • State: No human induced significant deviation of population abundance and density from reference conditions.
  • State: The species composition shows a positive trend towards reference condition over an increasing proportion of the habitat (for recovering habitats).



Marine habitats are generally defined by physical features and characteristic species. Nonetheless, habitat types are not clearly distinct regions with clear boundaries in nature. Benthic habitats are considered as important drivers of diversity and therefore the modification or loss of habitats are considered as serious threat to marine ecosystems. Due to heterogeneity of habitats and limited available data, the monitoring of habitat status is a great challenge for ecological assessment programmes.

Read more

Assessment methods

Assessments of the status and the extension of marine habitats require the adoption of rigorous approaches (in terms of sampling design, selection of appropriate spatial and temporal scales, habitat classification, identification of vulnerable taxa) that can give a good image of the distributional range and the condition of marine systems and of their alteration by pressures from human activities. Following changes in space and time in the occurrence of target species/habitats (e.g. habitat formers) able to indicate the status of the systems, and including the consideration of appropriate control areas should be the way to go.

Read more

Results and Status, including trends

The Mediterranean broad scale habitats were modeled using the same approach identified in Emodnet for the western Mediterranean. This consisted in first identifying the benthic assemblages (or groups of assemblages) whose extension is such that they can be portrayed at a broad scale level and then identifying the qualifying environmental factors that can be used to model each assemblage distribution (i.e. substrate classes, depth zones, estimated light reaching the sea bottom). This procedure was feasible because a regional benthic habitat classification scheme based on benthic zonation rules involving biological zones and substrate class combinations exists within the framework of the Barcelona convention (UNEP, 2006) and because the Barcelona Convention habitat categories have been included within the EUNIS 2007-2011 habitat classification scheme

Read more


Regional expertise, research and monitoring programmes over the last few decades have tended to concentrate their attention on only a few specific Mediterranean habitats. The exploration of other habitats, such as bioconstructions, from very shallow to the deep-sea should be further supported, with a focus on threats and pressures in order to improve the conservation status as well as the policy assessments.

Read more

Key messages

  • The shift from Habitat conservation approaches to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning approaches reflects much better the rationale which sustains the management and conservation of marine ecosystems.
  • This shift calls for holistic, integrative and ecosystem based approaches, which are still under development and will require a reappraisal of the way we tackle ocean monitoring, assessment and management.

Read more


Airoldi L., and M. W. Beck. (2007). Loss, status and trends for coastal marine habitats of Europe. Oceanography and Marine Biology, 45: 345-405.

Bazairi C.H., Ben Haj, S., Boero, F., Cebrian, D. (2010). The Mediterranean Sea Biodiversity: state of the ecosystems, pressures, impacts and future priorities. RAC/SPA, Tunis

Berline, L., Rammou, A., Doglioli, A., Molcard, A., Petrenko, A., 2014. A connectivity-based ecoregionalization of the Mediterranean sea. Plos One 9(11) e111978. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111978.

Boero F. (2003). State of knowledge of marine and coastal biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea. UNEP, SPA-RAC: Tunis, Tunisia

Boero et al. (2015). The future of the Mediterranean Sea Ecosystem: towards a different tomorrow. Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei 26: 3-12

Boudouresque, C.F. 2004 Marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean: status of species, populations and communities. Scientific Report of Port-Cros National 20: 97-146.

Brodeur R.D., Link J.S., Smith B.E., Ford M.D., Kobayashi D.R., Jones T.J. 2016. Ecological and economic consequences of ignoring jellyfish: a plea for increased monitoring of ecosystems, Fisheries, 41:11, 630-637

Coll M., C. Piroddi, and C. a. Albouy (2012). The Mediterranean Sea under siege: Spatial overlap between marine biodiversity, cumulative threats and marine reserves. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21:465-480.

Coll M., C. Piroddi, J. Steenbeek, K. Kaschner, F. B. Lasram, J. Aguzzi, E. Ballesteros, C. N. Bianchi, J. Corbera, T. Dailianis, R. Danovaro, M. Estrada, C. Froglia, B. S. Galil, J. M. Gasol, R. Gertwagen, J. Gil, F. Guilhaumon, K. Kesner-Reyes, M. S. Kitsos, A. Koukouras, N. Lampadariou, E. Laxamana, C. M. L. F. de la Cuadra, H. K. Lotze, D. Martin, D. Mouillot, D. Oro, S. Raicevich, J. Rius-Barile, J. I. Saiz-Salinas, C. San Vicente, S. Somot, J. Templado, X. Turon, D. Vafidis, R. Villanueva, and E. Voultsiadou (2010). The Biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: Estimates, Patterns, and Threats. Plos One 5

Colloca F, Garofalo G, Bitetto I, Facchini MT, Grati F, Martiradonna A, et al. (2015) The Seascape of Demersal Fish Nursery Areas in the North Mediterranean Sea, a First Step Towards the Implementation of Spatial Planning for Trawl Fisheries. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0119590

Claudet J., and S. Fraschetti. (2010). Human-driven impacts on marine habitats: A regional meta analysis in the Mediterranean Sea. Biological Conservation 143: 2195-2206.

Danovaro R., J. B. Company, C. Corinaldesi, G. D'Onghia, B. Galil, C. Gambi, A. J. Gooday, N. Lampadariou, G. M. Luna, C. Morigi, K. Olu, P. Polymenakou, E. Ramirez-Llodra, A. Sabbatini, and Sard (2010). Deep-sea biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea: The known, the unknown, and the unknowable. Plos One 5.

D’Ortenzio F, Ribera d’Alcalà M (2009) On the trophic regimes of the Mediterranean sea: a satellite analysis. Biogeosciences 6: 139–148.

Galil B., (2012). Truth and consequences: the bioinvasion of the Mediterranean Sea. Integrative Zoology 7: 299-311

Gubbay S., Sanders N., Haynes T., Janssen J.A.M., Rodwell J.R., Nieto A., García Criado M., Beal S., Borg J., Kennedy M. And Micu D., Otero M., Saunders G. and Calix M. (2016). European Red List of Habitats: Part 1. Marine habitats. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2016, (, ISBN: 978-92-79-61586-3.

Harmelin-Vivien, M. (2000). Influence of fishing on the trophic structure of fish assemblages in Mediterranean seagrass beds. In: Fishing down the Mediterranean food webs?, Kerkyra (Greece), 26-30 July 2000. CIESM Workshop Series, 12: 39-41.

Martin C.S., Giannoulaki M., De Leo F., Scardi M., Salomidi M., Knitweiss L., Pace ML., Garofalo G., Gristina M., Ballesteros E., Bavestrello G., Belluscio A., Cebrian E., Gerakaris V., Pergent G., Pergent-Martini C., Schembri PJ., Terribile K., Rizzo L., Ben Souissi J., Bonacorsi M., Guarnieri G., Krzelj M., Macic V., Punzo E., Valavanis V., and Fraschetti S. (2014). Coralligenous and maërl habitats: predictive modelling to identify their spatial distributions across the Mediterranean Sea. Scientific Reports 4, 5073. DOI: 10.1038/srep05073

Mangialajo L., Gianni F., Airoldi L., Bartolini F., Francour P., Meinesz A., Thibaut  T. and E. Ballesteros (2013). Conservation and Restoration of Cystoseira Forests in the Mediterranean Sea: The Role Of Marine Protected Areas. Conference paper (

MEDPAN (2016). Tangier Declaration: Contributing to Achieve the Aichi Targets and The Sustainable Development Goals Through an Effective Marine Protected Area Network in the Mediterranean Sea. The 2016 Forum of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean, towards 2020 & beyond, 28 Nov. / 1st Dec 2016, Tangier, Morocco.

Micheli F., Halpern B.S., Walbridge S., Ciriaco S., Ferretti F., Fraschetti S., Lewison R., Nykjaer L., and Rosenberg A.A. (2013). Cumulative human impacts on Mediterranean and Black Sea marine ecosystems: assessing current pressures and opportunities. PLoS ONE 8 (12), e79889.

O'Brien TD, Wiebe PH, Hay S (2010) ICES Zooplankton Status Report 2008/2009 ICES Cooperative Research Report No 307 152

Ostle C., Artigas F., Aubert A., Budria A., Graham G., Johansen M., Johns D., Padegimas B., Rombouts I. & McQuatters-Gollop A. (2017, in print). “Programming outputs for constructing the plankton lifeform indicator from disparate data types” as a contribution to the EU Co-financed EcApRHA project (Applying an ecosystem approach to (sub) regional habitat assessments), Deliverable report No. 1.1., 34p.

OSPAR (2017, under publication.). Draft indicator assessment on “Changes in plankton biomass and abundance (PH2)” a contribution to the OSPAR Intermediate Assessment, 2017”, OSPAR. Available from July 2017 at:

Perkol-Finkel S., Ferrario F., Nicotera V., Airoldi L. (2012). Conservation challenges in urban seascapes: promoting the growth of threatened species on coastal infrastructures. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 1457-1466

Populus J., Vasquez M., Albrecht J., Manca E., Agnesi S., Al Hamdani Z., Andersen J., Annunziatellis A., Bekkby T., Bruschi A., Doncheva V., Drakopoulou V., Duncan G., Inghilesi R., Kyriakidou C., Lalli F., Lillis H., Mo G., Muresan M., Salomidi M., Sakellariou D., Simboura M., Teaca A., Tezcan D., Todorova V. and Tunesi L., 2017. EUSeaMap, a European broad-scale seabed habitat map. 174p.

Rice, J.∗, Arvanitidis, C, Borjac A., Fridd, C., Hiddinke J.G., Krausef, J,

Loranceg, P., Áki Ragnarssonh, S., Sköldi, M., Trabuccoj, B., Enserinkk, L., Norkkol, A.,(2012). Indicators for Sea-floor Integrity under the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Rivetti I., S. Fraschetti, P. Lionello, E. Zambianchi, and F. Boero (2014). Global warming and mass mortalities of benthic invertebrates in the Mediterranean Sea. Plos One 9: 1-22

Telesca L., Belluscio A., Criscoli A., Ardizzone G., Apostolaki E.T., Fraschetti S., Gristina M., Knittweis L., Martin C.S., Pergent G., Alagna A., Badalamenti F., Garofalo G., Gerakaris V., Pace M.L., Pergent-Martini C., and Salomidi M. (2015).  Seagrass meadows (Posidonia oceanica) distribution and trajectories of change. 2015. Scientific Reports, 5: 12505

Underwood A.J., Chapman M.G., (2013). Methods for the study of marine benthos, Fourth.

Williamson, P., Smythe-Wright, D., and Burkill, P., Eds. (2016). Future of the Ocean and its Seas: a non-governmental scientific perspective on seven marine research issues of G7 interest. ICSU-IAPSO-IUGG-SCOR, Paris.

Zenetos A., et al. 2010. Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by (2010). A contribution to the application of European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Part I. Spatial distribution. Mediterranean Marine Science 11: 381-493

Van Hoey G., Borja A., Birchenough S., Buhl-Mortensen L., Degraer S., Fleischer D., Kerckhof F., Magni P., Muxika I., Reiss H., Schröder A., Zettler M.L. (2010). The use of benthic indicators in Europe: From the Water Framework Directive to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Mar. Pollut. Bull. 60 (2010) 2187–2196. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.09.015.

UNEP/MAP (1995). Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (adopted in 1995).

Populus J., Vasquez M., Albrecht J., Manca E., Agnesi S., Al Hamdani Z., Andersen J., Annunziatellis A., Bekkby T., Bruschi A., Doncheva V., Drakopoulou V., Duncan G., Inghilesi R., Kyriakidou C., Lalli F., Lillis H., Mo G., Muresan M., Salomidi M., Sakellariou D., Simboura M., Teaca A., Tezcan D., Todorova V. and Tunesi L., 2017. EUSeaMap, a European broad-scale seabed habitat map. 174p.

UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2002. Liste de référence des types d’habitats marins pour la sélection des sites à inclure dans les Inventaires Nationaux de Sites Naturels d’Intérêt pour la Conservation. Par BELLAN-SANTINI D., BELLAN G., BITAR G., HARMELIN J.G., PERGENT G. (Coord.), 199p.

UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2003. Programme d’Action Stratégiques pour la Conservation de la Diversité biologique (PAS BIO) en région Méditerranéenne. Tunis.

UNEP/MAP (2016). Decision IG.22/7 - Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast and Related Assessment Criteria. COP19, Athens, Greece. United Nations Environment Programme, Mediterranean Action Plan, Athens.

Zenetos A., Siokou-Frangou I. & Gotsis-Skretas O., Groom S. 2002. Europe's biodiversity – biogeographical regions and seas: The Mediterranean Sea - blue oxygen-rich, nutrient-poor waters. Technical Report. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark.