, Volume 821, Issue 1, pp 235–253 | Cite as

The North sector of the Strait of Sicily: a priority area for conservation in the Mediterranean Sea

  • Manfredi Di Lorenzo
  • Matteo Sinerchia
  • Francesco Colloca


The largest semi-enclosed basin in the world, the Mediterranean Sea, is characterized by high biodiversity and heavy human pressure on the coastal system. The Strait of Sicily (SoS) represents the boundary between western and eastern Mediterranean sub-regions and is an important biodiversity hot spot. Given its ecotonal nature and it being a “crossroad” for the westward expansion of warm-temperate and tropical species from the Levantin basin, the SoS is likely to play a key role in future climate change related biodiversity changes within the Mediterranean. The complexity of the SoS ecosystem, characterized by wider shallow detritic and rocky banks on the continental shelf hosting large biodiverse communities, and peculiar circulation pattern, promotes species diversity and abundance. In addition, the deep-sea is characterized by the occurrence of extremely vulnerable habitats, such as deep-water communities of scleractinian corals, antipatharians, gorgonians, and red coral. We review the current knowledge on the main characteristics of the north sector of the SoS ecosystem. The SoS ecosystem is increasingly threatened by expanding anthropogenic pressures in the area and specific conservation measures should be implemented on a national and international level to protect the relevant and vulnerable habitats.


Mediterranean Sea Strait of Sicily Biodiversity Conservation Fishery 



Our manuscript was largely improved by comments from three anonymous reviewers and we owe a special debt of gratitude to Katie E. Hogg who read the manuscript, offered feedback during the revision process and checked the English. This research was supported by MAREFRAME project (Grant Agreement No. 613571) funded by European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfredi Di Lorenzo
    • 1
  • Matteo Sinerchia
    • 2
  • Francesco Colloca
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, S.S. Mazara del ValloMazara Del ValloItaly
  2. 2.Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche CNR-IAMC, S.S. OristanoOristanoItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie Charles Darwin (BBCD)Sapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly

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