Egadi archipelago - marine and terrestrial area (ITA010027)
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Egadi archipelago - marine and terrestrial area (ITA010027)

Site type: SPA - Special Protection Area

Code: ITA010026 - Hectares: 48291

Description:

The Egadi Islands are located in the Sicilian Channel, off the western coast of Trapani, as the emerged edges of the submarine reliefs that connect the
Sicilian Maghrebi chain to the Tunisian one. The archipelago, which falls entirely within the administrative territory of the municipality of Favignana (Trapani), is constituted
from the major islands of Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo and from the small rocks of Formica and Maraone, for a total extension of 37,45 Km2. Among them,
Marettimo stands out above all, for the high naturalistic interest of the territory and particularly rich in endemism its paleogeographic history and morphology
somewhat harsh and bumpy, characterizing a territory. Favignana and Levanzo, closer to Sicily, instead have a much sweeter profile, they are
more degraded and more exploited for tourism purposes. Rather large portions of Favignana appear degraded both due to the exploitation of quarries in
calcarenite, particularly intense in the past. From a geological point of view, the Archipelago falls within the so-called "Egadi Chain" which it constitutes
a portion of the "thrust belt" identified in the neighboring marine areas and structured in the upper Miocene, then segmented by fault systems during the
Plio-Pleistocene tectonics. The Island of Marettimo (12,3 Km2) is characterized by an orographic ridge dominated by Pizzo Falcone (686 m asl), which rises
within a system of peaks often exceeding 400 meters of altitude. These are Mesozoic substrates, mainly consisting of dolomites, as well as marls and
limestones of the Middle Trias-Lower Lias (ABATE et al., 1999). The island of Levanzo (5,6 Km2) has a morphological structure defined by faults that separate two
limestone ridges with a north-south trend, culminating respectively in the peaks of Pizzo del Monaco (278 m asl) and Pizzo del Corvo (201 m asl), between which
develops the large depression called La Fossa (69 m asl). These ridges are characterized by carbonate and clastic-terrigenous substrates dating back to the Tertiary Mesozoic, on which Plio-Quaternary deposits are based in discordance, represented by calcarenites and sandstones dating back to the Lower Pleistocene, as well as conglomerates
coarse residues of marine terraces formed between the Upper Pleistocene and the Holocene (ABATE & al., 1995). The island of Favignana (19,8 Km2) is characterized
by two large esplanades that correspond to surfaces of marine abrasion of the upper Pleistocene, separated by a Mesozoic-tertiary ridge, culminating in the
Monte Santa Caterina (314 m asl). The eastern plain is carved on whitish lower Pleistocene sandstones, while the western one is set on the
Mesozoic-tertiary carbonate successions and is sometimes covered by Tyrrhenian conglomeratic levels, Holocene aeolian sediments and colluvial and eluvial deposits
(AGNESI et al., 1993) Following the bioclimatic classification proposed by BRULLO et al. (1996), the territories of Levanzo and Favignana, and the coastal strip of
Marettimo - in addition to the islets Maraone and Formica - are almost entirely part of the dry thermo-Mediterranean area, leaving room for vegetation aspects of the series
of the Olivastro and the arborescent Euphorbia (Oleo-Euphorbieto dendroidis sigmetum) and, in some particularly arid contexts, also of the Periploca series

angustifolia of the Periploco-Euphorbieto dendroidis sigmetum. On the Island of Marettimo the slopes between 150-250 and 400-550 m asl fall within the range of
sub-humid thermomediterranean, mainly occupied by the series of pine groves with Pinus halepensis (Pistacio lentisci-Pineto halepensis sigmetum), while in
above the Mesomediterranean plain, limited to the top of the major hills of the island, the series of Leccio prevails (Pistacio lentisci-Querceto ilicis sigmetum).
Among the aspects of degradation of the aforementioned forest coenosis, various expressions of garrigue can be found in Rosmarinus officinalis and Erica multiflora (Erico
multiflorae-Micromerietum fruticulosae), which host several very interesting relict entities - and absent in Sicily - such as Daphne sericea and Thymelaea tartonraira
(GIANGUZZI et al., 2003). Among the other types of vegetation we must also mention the rocky aspects of the Dianthion rupicolae alliance, quite rich - especially
in Marettimo - of endemics or rare taxa, as well as the halophytic formations of Crithmo-Limonion. The Egadi archipelago falls on the continental shelf of the
Western Sicily, representing an offshoot of the northern mountain range, of which it shares the geological nature, signaled by the presence of
vast limestone deposits on most of the seabed that extend between the islands of Favignana and Levanzo. The area of ​​the platform on which the archipelago stands is
characterized by erosive and depositional forms, such as submerged cliffs, abrasion terraces, river valleys, paleo beaches and dunes, which testify to the different phases
of the last cycle of glacio-eustatic variation of the sea level. In the area it is possible, based on the bathymetry, to distinguish two platform sectors: the first
it includes the island of Favignana and the island of Levanzo, joined to the mainland by a slight depression; the second sector includes only the island of
Marettimo, detached from Favignana and Levanzo by a 350 m deep canal, which has kept Marettimo constantly separated from the mainland since
Pliocene. In the depths of the continental shelf of the archipelago there are medium-fine sands, with two prevalent components: the organogenic one, of
shell derivation; the limestone, which derives from the erosion of the rocky outcrops. The zoning of the submerged vegetation of the entire archipelago is
depending on the nature of the substrate, the intense hydrodynamics and the light, factors that determine a high fragmentation in photophilic and sciaphilous populations.
Favignana and Levanzo the bottoms of the infralittoral are typically dominated by brown algae, up to 10-12 meters deep, followed by dense meadows of
Posidonia oceanica. In these two islands of the archipelago the populations of the circalittoral plain are represented only in some sites on the southern side
of Favignana and in the shallows of the sea. In particular, the presence of Laminaria rodriguezi facies on a hard substrate and in the presence of intense
bottom currents, which occupy large areas of the seabed (between -60 and -100 m) of the Levanzo circalitoral plane. The seabed of Marettimo has similar characteristics
in the infralittoral plane, but they also consist of a large circalitoral plane, up to the edge of the continental plateau.
upper infralittoral is characterized by photophilic biocenosis, characterized by a wide belt with Cystoseira amentacea var. stricta and Cystoseira crinita at times
vicariates from algae typical of well-lit environments, such as Cystoseira balearica, Padina pavonica and Acetabularia acetabulum. The distribution of Cystoseira
amentacea var. stricta in the Egadi islands is continuous on the substrate suitable for the plant. The species is always present with coverage higher than 60-80%, sometimes equal to
100%. In Marettimo, in calm environments without sedimentation, Cystoseira amentacea var. stricta can be vicariate from Cystoseira Mediterranea or from
Cystoseira elegans above all. Cystoseira amentacea var. stricta is accompanied by short stretches of Cystoseira zosteroides in Levanzo, and by Cystoseira ercegovicii
in Favignana. Among the naturalistic emergencies of the Egadi Islands area we must remember: the vermeti sidewalk, the belt with Astroides calycularis, the caves
submerged and the sciaphilous populations and Posidonia oceanica meadows. The vermeti sidewalk, a biogenic construction due to the sessile gastropod Dendropoma
petraeum, is extremely abundant and with an excellent level of structuring on the coastal strip of the three islands of the archipelago. The band at Astroides
calycularis, a thermophilic species of colonial madreporary in regression in many areas of the Mediterranean, covers the first fringe of the infralittoral immediately
under the vermeti sidewalk: extensive colonies are found mainly along the submerged cliff of the integral reserve area and in the surface caves at
Marettimo. Both Dendropoma petraeum and Astroides calycularis are among the endangered or endangered species in the Mediterranean. The caves
superficial and intense karst are the most expressive landscape aspect of the carbonate nature of the substrates of the coastal strip of the Egadi. To the elevated
the number of caverns and tunnels along the coasts corresponds to an equally developed underwater karst. The low brightness of the overhanging seabed in many cases
they favor the development of sciaphilous concretions and coralligenous. The roughness of the limestones also increases the settlement of meroplankton larvae and the
formation of shelters occupied by a rich endolithic fauna. The Posidonia oceanica meadows, a priority habitat, represent the most important biocenosis in
as they are particularly abundant and distributed in a rather continuous manner on all the seabed of the Egadi Islands, especially on those made up of sands
medium-fine, which develop scarcely in depth. The upper limit of the prairies is between -5 / -12 m in Favignana and -12 / -15 m at Marettimo. Patches
scattered, alternating with photophilic biocoenoses, are frequent on the hard substrate bottoms of sheltered coves, even at low depths.
seabed of the Egadi islands is Lithophyllum lichenoides. This species of calcareous alga can form vast concretions ("trottoirs"), currently in constant
decrease in various sectors of the Mediterranean, particular hosts and rich wildlife communities. In the Egadi islands this species is distributed in a discontinuous way
on the Egadi islands there are several rocky shoals that present spectacular aspects both from an aesthetic point of view and for the exceptional structure
of animal populations, dominated by gorgonians and porifers.
4.2Quality and importance
The Egadi Archipelago includes an area of ​​considerable naturalistic-environmental and phytocenotic interest, with various aspects of very peculiar vegetation, in which
scope is represented a high number of endemic plant species and / or of significant phytogeographic interest, several of which are exclusive (especially
on the Island of Marittimo). The same islands also have a significant faunal importance, as they are located along the main Europe-Africa migratory route of western Sicily. Among the species listed in section 3.3 are some entities whose presence in the territory is considered particularly
phytogeographic interest, several of which are rare or completely absent in Sicily. In particular, it deals with some elements of the vascular flora (Aristolochia
navicularis, Athamanta sicula, Carduus arabicus subsp. marmoratus, Convolvulus pentapetaloides, Daphne sericea Erodium maritimum, Lagurus ovatus var.
vestitus, Ononis minutissima, Periploca angustifolia, Phyllitis sagittata, Ranunculus parviflorus, Reichardia tingitana Rhamnus lycioides subsp. Oleoides,
Scorzonera deliciosa, Senecio delphinifolius Simethis mattiazzi Thymelaea tartonraira), as well as some bryophytes (Homalia besseri, Cephaloziella rebella,
Cololejeunea minutissima, Ditrichum pusillum ,, Scleropodium vessitans) .The faunal contribution of the Egadi archipelago falls in the presence of colonies
seabirds of particular importance at European level, hosting one of the largest populations of storm birds in the Mediterranean.
The area has recently become very important when it comes to the migration of threatened birds (raptors and storks). The presence of the
Wagler's lizard in Marettimo (Cfr. Podarcis wagleriana marettimensis) demonstrates its relevance from a herpetological point of view. The entomofauna is also rich
with numerous endemic species located even in one of the islands and in small habitats.The entire area is of great importance, both from the point of
landscape and biological-environmental view. In the seabed, there are various animal species that appear in the lists of species to be protected, as required by
national and international conventions. The presence of vast Posidonia oceanica meadows, an important nursery area for fish species, together with the
Astroides calycularis, and the concretions represented by the sidewalk with vermetid molluscs (Dendropoma petraeum) complete the peculiarities of
this environment

Ministerial data:  Natura 2000 form

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Region of Sicily

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