Biodiversity data requirements for systematic conservation planning in the Mediterranean Sea

Noam Levin, Marta Coll, Simonetta Fraschetti, Gideon Gal, Sylvaine Giakoumi, Cordula Goke, Johanna Jacomina Heymans, Stelios Katsanevakis, Tessa Mazor, Bayram Ozturk, Gil Rilov, Juliusz Gajewski, Jeroen Steenbeek, Salit Kark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The Mediterranean Sea’s biodiversity and ecosystems face many threats due to
anthropogenic pressures. Some of these include human population growth, coastal urbanization,
accelerated human activities, and climate change. To enhance the formation of a science-based
system of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea, data on the spatial distribution of
ecological features (abiotic variables, species, communities, habitats, and ecosystems) is required
to inform conservation scientists and planners. However, the spatial data required is often lacking.
In this review, we aimed to address the status of our knowledge for 3 major types of spatial information:
bathymetry, classification of marine habitats, and species distributions. To exemplify the
data gaps and approaches to bridge them, we examined case studies that systematically prioritize
conservation in the Mediterranean Sea. We found that at present the data required for conservation
planning is generally more readily available and of better quality for the European countries
located in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, the Mediterranean Sea is lagging behind
other marine regions where rigorous criteria for conservation planning has been applied in the
past 20 yr. Therefore, we call upon scientists, governments, and international governmental and
non-governmental organizations to harmonize current approaches in marine mapping and to
develop a framework that is applicable throughout the Mediterranean region. Such coordination
between stakeholders is urgently needed before more countries undertake further extensive habitat
mapping, so that future conservation planning can use integrated spatial datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-281
Number of pages20
JournalMarine Ecology-Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2014


  • Conservation planning
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Biodiversity
  • Habitats
  • Bathymetry
  • Spatial data


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