Among marine habitats, Sabellaria alveolata reefs deserve protection as they provide important ecosystem services and are advantageous for the biodiversity. Several marine species are listed among the S. alveolata reef-associated fauna, but characteristic species have been only seldom reported, with the exception of Eulalia ornata (Annelida: Phyllodocidae), which is common/abundant in the 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 has never been recorded. However, 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. A taxonomical approach integrated with DNA bar-coding and comparisons with closely related species helped us determine E. ornata as a new species for the Mediterranean Sea. We have described the patterns of abundance and distribution and corroborated its status as a preferential species in the S. alveolata reef habitat. Focusing on the biology and ecology of E. ornata will enable us to better understand the dynamics and functioning of this valuable European shallow marine habitat.
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