We sampled macroalgal assemblages on 37 rocky outcrops in the northern Adriatic over the last 2 decades by SCUBA. Macroalgal assemblages were rich (173 taxa), but there was high variability in the number of species and coverage. The morphology of the outcrops, the distance from the coast and the depth were identified as the main factors accounting for this variability. Both the mean total algal coverage (14.8%) and encrusting layer coverage (8.0%) were low when compared to typical Mediterranean coralligenous habitats. Four main groups of algal assemblages were distinguished on the basis of their species composition and coverage. Groups 1 and 3 were located inshore off the Lido inlet and south of it, and had, respectively, low or intermediate total algal cover. Group 2 included outcrops situated offshore from the Venice lagoon along with all outcrops off the Grado-Marano lagoon; these had the highest total algal cover. Finally, group 4 included assemblages comprising algae that were widespread on outcrops in the inshore habitats of the Venice lagoon, between Malamocco and Chioggia inlets. Offshore outcrops subject to low turbidity and eutrophication levels had several characteristic Mediterranean coralligenous taxa.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston