Assessment of habitats and species of conservation interest to support the MPA implementation process in the Tyrrhenian Sea with a focus on Centrostephanus longispinus (Philippi, 1845).

Jéssica Luana Santana Mendonça de Oliveira

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas designed for conservation interests and sustainable exploitation of resources. Their effectiveness is also based on solid ecological and socioeconomical knowledge of the area. These information are generally gathered for their design and planning. In the frame of this thesis, replicable steps such as appropriate sampling, analysis of ecological and socio-economic data were carried out allowing to compile a map that represented the proposal of the MPA zonation, valorising the most important ecological features for the Salina island coastal zone. Unique aspects support the decision to create no-entry/no-take zone around the coast to support biodiversity interests and zone B with restrictions and empowerment for the local community. In addition, a specific study was carried out for Centrostephanus longispinus, a protected sea urchin species under Habitat Directive, Barcelona and Bern Convention. Biological features of the population such as depth range and habitat were analysed, and results showed a significant difference only for habitat. Besides, a pioneer morphological description was made for this species by stereomicroscope and scanning electron microscope (SEM) observations, adding new features to be considered for taxonomic studies.