ClimateFish : Abundance of selected coastal fish species as candidate indicators of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea

Date 2022-03-29
Temporal extent 2009-09-01 -2021-09-23
Author(s) Azzurro ErnestoORCID1, 2, Ballerini ToscaORCID1, 3, Antoniadou ChryssanthiORCID4, Aversa Giulia Domizia5, Ben Souissi JamilaORCID6, Blašković Andrea7, Cappanera ValentinaORCID8, Chiappi Marina9, 10, Cinti Maria-Francesca11, Colloca FrancescoORCID12, Cvitković Ivan13, D'Amen ManuelaORCID1, 3, Despalatović Marija13, Di Franco AntonioORCID14, Dimitriadis Charalampos15, Dragičević BrankoORCID13, Fanelli EmanuelaORCID9, Figuerola Ferrando LauraORCID16, Fortibuoni TomasoORCID17, Franzitta GiulioORCID18, Garrabou JoaquimORCID19, Geloso Tatiana20, Ghanem RaouiaORCID21, Gori AndreaORCID16, Hervat Martina7, Izquierdo-Muñoz AndresORCID22, Linares Prat CristinaORCID16, La Mesa GabrieleORCID23, Merotto Lorenzo8, Micallef RenoORCID24, Miliou AnastasiaORCID25, Minelli AnnalisaORCID23, Moschella Paula26, Pannacciulli FedericaORCID27, Panzalis Pieraugusto11, Pavičić MišoORCID13, Petrou AntonisORCID28, Ramos-Esplá Alfonso A.ORCID22, Saponari Luca29, Scarcella GiuseppeORCID1, Spoto Marco30, Stagličić Nika13, Vrdoljak DarioORCID13, Vouriot Pauline31, Weitzmann Boris32, Schembri Patrick JosephORCID24
Affiliation(s) 1 : National Research Council, Institute of Biological Resources and Marine Biotechnologies (CNR-IRBIM), Ancona, Italy
2 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Naples, Italy
3 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Fano Marine Centre, Fano (PU), Italy
4 : School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
5 : The Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
6 : National Institute of Agronomy of Tunisia (INAT), University of Carthage, Tunisia,
7 : Brijuni National Park, Brijuni, Pula, Croatia
8 : Portofino Marine Protected Area - Consortium of Management, Portofino, Italy
9 : Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy
10 : AP Marine Environmental Consultancy Ltd, Aglantzia, Nicosia, Cyprus
11 : Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area, Tavolara, Olbia, Sassari, Italy
12 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dorhn, Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Rome, Italy
13 : Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOF), Split, Croatia
14 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dorhn, Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Palermo, Italy
15 : National Marine Park of Zakynthos, El.Venizelou, Zakynthos Island, Greece
16 : Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona
17 : Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Ozzano dell'Emilia, Italy
18 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, RIMAR Department, Naples, Italy
19 : Institute of Marine Sciences, Spanish Research Council (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
20 : Mare Nostrum Diving, Palermo, Italy
21 : Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Climate Change Laboratory-LR11ES09, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia
22 : Department of Marine Sciences, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain
23 : Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Roma, Italy
24 : University of Malta, Msida, Malta
25 : Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, Samos, Greece
26 : Mediterranean Science Commission, CIESM, Monaco
27 : Italian National Agency for New Technologies (ENEA), Marine Environment Research Centre - S. Teresa, Pozzuolo di Lerici, La Spezia, Italy
28 : Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre, Nicosia, Cyprus
29 : Nature Seychelles, The Centre for Environment and Education, Roche Caiman, Mahe, Republic of Seychelles
30 : National Research Council, Institute of Biological Resources and Marine Biotechnologies (CNR-IRBIM), Palermo, Italy
31 : Calanques National Park, Marseille, France
32 : Parc Natural del Montgrí, illes Medes i Baix Ter. Estartit, Spain
DOI 10.17882/86784
Publisher SEANOE
Keyword(s) Mediterranean Sea, climate change indicators, climate warming, visual census, species abundance, species distribution, sea water temperature, global warming, biological invasions, shift species distribution, time series, collaborative monitoring, meridionalization, tropicalization, poleward shifts

The ClimateFish database collates abundance data of 15 fish species proposed as candidate indicators of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea. An initial group of eight Mediterranean indigenous species (Epinephelus marginatus, Thalassoma pavo, Sparisoma cretense, Coris julis, Sarpa salpa, Serranus scriba, Serranus cabrilla and Caranx crysos) with wide distribution, responsiveness to temperature conditions and easy identification were selected by a network of Mediterranean scientists joined under the CIESM programme ‘Tropical Signals’ (; Azzurro et al. 2010). Soon after, and thanks to the discussion with other expert groups and projects, C. crysos was no longer considered, and Lessepsian fishes (Red Sea species entering the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal) were included, namely: Fistularia commersonii, Siganus luridus, Siganus rivulatus, Pterois miles, Stephanolopis diaspros, Parupeneus forskali, Pempheris rhomboidea and Torquigener flavimaculosus. Considering the trend of increase of these species in the Mediterranean Sea (Golani et al. 2021) and their projected distribution according to climate change scenarios (D’Amen and Azzurro, 2020), more data on these tropical invaders are expected to come in the future implementation of the study.

Data were collected according to a simplified visual census methodology (Garrabou et al. 2019) along standard transects of five minutes performed at a constant speed of 10m/min, corresponding approximately to an area of 50x5m. Four different depth layers were surveyed:  0-3m, 5-10 m, 11-20 m, 21-30 m. So far, the ClimateFish database includes fish counts collected along 3142 transects carried out in seven Mediterranean countries between 2009 and 2021, for a total number of 101'771 observed individuals belonging to the 15 fish species.

Data were collected by a large team of researchers which joined in a common monitoring strategy supported by different international projects, which are acknowledged below. This database, when associated with climate data, offers new opportunities to investigate spatio-temporal effects of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea and test the effectiveness of each species as a possible climate change indicator.


Contacts: ernesto.azzurro(at)



Azzurro E., Maynou F., Moschella P. (2010). A simplified visual census methodology to detect variability trends of coastal mediterranean fishes under climate change scenarios. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Médit., 39.

D’Amen, M. and Azzurro, E. (2020). Lessepsian fish invasion in Mediterranean marine protected areas: a risk assessment under climate change scenarios. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 77(1), pp.388-397.

Garrabou, J., Bensoussan, N., Azzurro, E. (2019). Monitoring climate-related responses in Mediterranean marine protected areas and beyond: five standard protocols.

Golani D.,  Azzurro E.,  Dulčić J.,  Massutí E., Orsi-Relini L.  (2021).  Atlas of Exotic Fishes in the Mediterranean Sea.  2nd edition  [F. Briand, Ed.]  365 pages.  CIESM Publishers, Paris, Monaco. ISBN number  978-92-990003-5-9 


Licence CC-BY
Acknowledgements The Mediterranean ClimateFish initiative was initially conceived by the international basin wide monitoring program CIESM Tropical Signals (funded by the Albert II of Monaco Foundation) and subsequently supported by the Interreg Med Programme (Projects: MPA‐Adapt, grant number 1MED15_3.2_M2_337 and MPA-ENGAGE, grant number 5MED18_3.2_M23_007), 85% co funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
File Size Format Processing Access
ClimateFish database: Abundance of coastal fish species 457 KB CSV Quality controlled data Open access
Description of the fields of the ClimateFish database 2 KB CSV Open access
A README file: txt machine-readable file describing the parameters of the database 11 KB TEXTE Open access
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Azzurro Ernesto, Ballerini Tosca, Antoniadou Chryssanthi, Aversa Giulia Domizia, Ben Souissi Jamila, Blašković Andrea, Cappanera Valentina, Chiappi Marina, Cinti Maria-Francesca, Colloca Francesco, Cvitković Ivan, D'Amen Manuela, Despalatović Marija, Di Franco Antonio, Dimitriadis Charalampos, Dragičević Branko, Fanelli Emanuela, Figuerola Ferrando Laura, Fortibuoni Tomaso, Franzitta Giulio, Garrabou Joaquim, Geloso Tatiana, Ghanem Raouia, Gori Andrea, Hervat Martina, Izquierdo-Muñoz Andres, Linares Prat Cristina, La Mesa Gabriele, Merotto Lorenzo, Micallef Reno, Miliou Anastasia, Minelli Annalisa, Moschella Paula, Pannacciulli Federica, Panzalis Pieraugusto, Pavičić Mišo, Petrou Antonis, Ramos-Esplá Alfonso A., Saponari Luca, Scarcella Giuseppe, Spoto Marco, Stagličić Nika, Vrdoljak Dario, Vouriot Pauline, Weitzmann Boris, Schembri Patrick Joseph (2022). ClimateFish : Abundance of selected coastal fish species as candidate indicators of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea. SEANOE.