Research Article

Central European Journal of Biology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 122-136

First online:

Hidden secrets of the Northern Adriatic: “Tegnúe”, peculiar reefs

  • Sandra CasellatoAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova
  • , Luciano MasieroAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova
  • , Elena SichirolloAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova
  • , Stefano SoresiAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova

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Research carried out over the last 40 years has underlined the scientific importance of the rocky outcrops scattered on the Northern Adriatic Sea bed sometimes referred to as “tegnúe”. The zoobenthic biocenoses developing over these peculiar geological formations are as extraordinary as they are unique. A study carried out for an entire year in two sampling stations, at different distances from the coast, revealed a very high number of zoobenthic species, including those which have now become rare and are therefore protected in Italian seas. The water turbidity of the northern Adriatic Sea greatly reduces the quantity of light reaching these outcrops, limiting the activity of autotrophic organisms only to sciaphilous genera. Thus, the most represented trophic categories of zoobenthos are suspension, especially filter feeders. Biodiversity values calculated for the communities of these particular reefs are far higher than normally found in the soft seabed in nearby areas, but even higher than in other coralligenous outcrops in other marine ecosystem in the world. The ecological role played by the tegnúe in the Northern Adriatic is extraordinary because as well as being true oases of biodiversity, they are areas naturally protected against bottom trawl-fishing. Thus, they offer shelter and reproduction sites for a number of fish and invertebrate species, including some under stress due to severe fishing pressure.


Reefs zoobenthos Adriatic Sea biodiversity oasis