Report | March 12, 2024

Habitat characterization, anthropogenic impacts andconservation of rhodolith beds off southeastern Malta

Rhodolith beds, including maerl, are structurally complex perennial habitats that support a high species diversity but are threatened by numerous human activities, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite their global ecological importance, increased research efforts are needed to facilitate development of effective measures to conserve these habitats.

Two areas hosting rhodolith beds are known to occur off the coast of Malta (central Mediterranean), but only one has been previously studied. Through analysis of video footage collected from 56 different stations coupled with a desk study on human activities, the present study characterized the rhodolith bed located off the southeastern coast of Malta, including its extent, rhodolith morphotype composition, associated megabiota and impacts of anthropogenic activities thereon.