A Mediterranean record of Eulalia ornata (Annelida: Phyllodocidae) corroborating its fidelity link with the Sabellaria alveolata-reef habitat
LO BRUTTO, S.
Among marine habitats Sabellaria alveolata-reefs deserve protection since they provide important ecosystem services and positive effects on biodiversity. Several marine species are listed among the S. alveolata-reef associated fauna, but characteristic species were seldom reported. Eulalia ornata (Annelida, Phyllodocidae) might represent an exception, since it appears common/abundant in S. alveolata-reefs of the Eastern Atlantic. The most evident geographical mismatch in the distributions of E. ornata and these biogenic reefs occurs in the Mediterranean Sea, where S. alveolata-reefs are commonly found, but E. ornata was never recorded, whilst E. viridis, a non-Mediterranean species, was previously listed among the dominant reef-associated taxa. The faunal characterization of the sabellarid reefs along the Sicily Channel revealed an Eulalia species as the dominant taxon associated with that habitat in the area. A taxonomic approach integrated with DNA barcoding, and comparisons with closely related species, allow us to report E. ornata as a new record for the Mediterranean Sea. We describe patterns of abundance and distribution and corroborate its status as a preferential species in the S. alveolata-reef habitat. Focusing on the biology and ecology of E. ornata could help us to better understand the dynamics and functioning of this valuable European shallow marine habitat.