Giménez-Casalduero, F.; Gomariz-Castillo, F.; Canales, R., and Calvín J. C., 2018. Identifying the conservation state of marine rocky habitats along the western Mediterranean using focal species.
Marine management in Europe has progressed in implementing a European legal framework. The directives stand out among the legal instruments of such framework; their main objective is to conserve biodiversity in the marine environment in order to maintain a good ecological status. For the application of the directives, it is necessary to improve knowledge of the reef habitat by identifying its ecological value as a first step to define its conservation and ecological status. This study has identified the state of conservation in the rocky coastal habitat of the Region of Murcia (SE Spain) by using the presence of benthic focal species for each type of landscape as an indicator. To identify the landscape units, a hierarchical classification of rocky habitats was carried out. The existence of comparable units makes it possible to search for indicators of ecological status and compare the units within each category. After the definition of landscape units, the specific reference level for rock habitat, adapted to each of the “landscape types,” was defined, allowing its ecological value to be determined; the focus on focal species can help in defining conservation objectives. Of the rocky landscape units analysed, 94% have a high ecological value. In conclusion, with the methodology proposed in this paper, it is possible to easily define the specific reference level for rock habitat and determine its status in relation to it. This way it is possible to provide rapid information on the environmental status of rocky landscape units.