More research efforts are needed to understand the conservation status of Mediterranean corals

24 October 2014 | International Union for Conservation of Nature News Release

Over the last two years, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation was coordinating the expert group to assess the status of the Mediterranean anthozoans. After intensive data gathering, monitoring and analysis the experts estimated that around 45% of species were listed as Data Deficient, that is, there is no adequate information to make an assessment of its risk of extinction. The preliminary results of the evaluation indicate that approximately 11% of the species assessed are threatened of extinction according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM.

The experts assessed the risk of extinction of 145 species of anthozoans which included deep sea and shallow corals, gorgonians, zoanthids, sea anemones and sea pens. Besides the lack of information about species, expert also discussed the next steps for promoting conservation actions in the region through different activities and policy programmes such as the governance tools of the Barcelona Convention.

Many anthozoans play an important role in the Mediterranean as bioconstructors, creating micro habitats that act as a shelter for many other organisms, including commercial species. They harbour rich ecosystems and can host a high level of benthic species diversity, several of which are adapted to live exclusively on these habitats in the Mediterranean Sea. Some species like the black corals are slow-growing and long living organisms that can grow from decades to millennia. The fragility of the colonies makes them very vulnerable to environmental or human-induced impacts and the colonies can take often take years, or even centuries to recover from disturbance.

These results arose from a workshop kindly hosted at Santa Margherita Ligure (Italy) from 29 September to 2 October 2014 by the University of Genoa, with the support of the IUCN Red List Unit and the IUCN Global Marine Assessment programme, in which 25 experts from different Mediterranean countries attended.

The final assessment report will be available by mid-2015.

This Regional Red List workshop is part of an important regional initiative funded by MAVA Foundation to conduct comprehensive extinction risk assessments of the more than 2,500 species of invertebrates and plants that occur in the Mediterranean region.


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