Spatio-temporal distribution of Isidella elongata, a vulnerable marine ecosystem indicator species, in the southern Adriatic Sea

Vulnerable marine ecosystem Isidella elongata Spatial distribution Time series Colonies basal diameter Southern Adriatic Sea Fisheries


The bamboo coral Isidella elongata is a forest-forming alcyonacean that dwells on deep-sea soft bottoms and is presently found in the Otranto Channel (Southern Adriatic Sea). In this study, we explored the spatial distribution and the demographic structure of the I. elongata facies (IF) over time, along with the diversity of IF-associated fauna in the southern Adriatic Sea, by using a time-series data of 9 years (2012–2020) from the Mediterranean International Bottom Trawl Survey (MEDITS). The spatial distribution of I. elongata was confronted with the fishing effort in the study area over time. This facies showed a constant spatial extent but a decreasing biomass over time. Changes in the basal diameter distribution of the colonies were also observed, with a significant decrease in the s from 2014 to 2020. These results suggest an increasing fishery-related impact from a developing deep-sea fishery occurring in the study area. The bamboo coral in the study area represents a hotspot of biodiversity in the context of the bathyal environment. A fisheries-restricted area was recently proposed in the context of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean at the Otranto Channel to help the conservation of I. elongata in the southern Adriatic Sea.