Antonio Di Franco - Researcher
Marine Protected Areas, Fish Dispersal, Fish Population Connectivity , Early Life Traits, Otoliths, Small scale fisheries, socio-ecosystems
Otolith microstructure and microchemistry analyses, underwater visual census, univariate and multivariate statistical analyses
+33 (0)492076848
+33 (0)492076849

Born in Palermo (Italy) on October 24th 1983, he is currently a post-doc fellow at University of Nice (France). Master degree in Marine Biological Resources at the University of Palermo (Italy), he completed, in 2011, a Ph.D. in “Fundamental Ecology” at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy), with a thesis entitled “Spatial connectivity and dispersal patterns to design networks of marine protected areas: the case of the white sea bream Diplodus sargus sargus (Linnaeus 1758)”.

He was visiting student in 2008 at CEAB-CSIC di Blanes (Spain) and visiting researcher in 2011 at the Southern Seas Ecology Laboratory, Adelaide (Australia).

He was involved in national and international projects on Marine Protected Areas with particular emphasis on fish dispersal at multiple life stages, reserve effect on fishes and potential effect of touristic frequentation (i.e. scuba divers) on biotic assemblages.

He is author of 34 ISI papers published in international journals and reviewer for 37 international journals.

The research activities he has carried out until now were primarily centred on 3 interrelated axes:

- Estimate patterns of connectivity and dispersal and their effect on fish populations to design effective networks of marine protected areas (MPAs)
- Assessing the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) for conservation of natural populations and management of exploited fish stocks
- Investigate MPAs, small scale fisheries (SSF) and fishing resources as a socio-ecological system (SES) integrating both natural and human components and providing ecosystem services



Giakoumi S., Pey A., Di Franco A., Francour P., Kizilkaya Z., Arda Y., Raybaud V., Guidetti P., 2019. Exploring the relationships between Marine Protected Areas and invasive fish in the world’s most invaded sea. Ecological Applications, 29(1): e018


Ben Lamine E, Di Franco A., Romdhane M.S., Francour P., 2018. Can citizen science contribute to fish assemblages monitoring in understudied areas? The case study of Tunisian marine protected areas. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 200: 420-427. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2017.11.031

Bakiu R., Cakalli M., Korro K., Di Fra nco A., Guidetti P., 2018. Small-scale fisheries at an Albanian Marine Protected Area: a collaborative attitude is associated with higher catches. Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 10: 527-535.

Bussotti S., Di Franco A., Bianchi C.N., Chevaldonné P., Egea L., Fanelli E., Lejeusne C., Musco L., Navarro-Barranco C., Pey A., Planes S., Vieux-Ingrassia J.V., Guidetti P., 2018. Fish mitigate trophic depletion in marine cave ecosystems. Scientific Reports 8, 9193;

Di Franco A., Plass-Johnson J., Di Lorenzo M., Claudet J., Gaines S.D., García-Charton J.A., Giakoumi S., Grorud-Colvert K., Werner Hackradt C., Micheli F., Guidetti P., 2018. Linking home ranges to protected area size: the case study of the Mediterranean Sea. Biological Conservation 221: 175–181. Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.012



 Bussotti S., Di Franco A., Pey A., Vieux-Ingrassia J.V., Planes S., Guidetti P., 2017. Distribution patterns of marine cave fishes and the potential role of the cardinal fish Apogon imberbis (Linnaeus, 1758) for cave ecosystem functioning in the western Mediterranean. Aquatic Living Resources, 30 15. DOI:
Cattano C., Calò A., Di Franco A., Firmamento R., Quattrocchi F., Sdiri K., Guidetti P., Milazzo M., 2017. Ocean acidification does not impair predator recognition but increases juvenile growth in a temperate wrasse off CO2 seeps. Marine Environmental Research, 132: 33-40.
Giakoumi S., Scianna C., Plass-Johnson J., Micheli F., Grorud-Colvert K., Thiriet P., Claudet J., Di Carlo G., Di Franco A., Gaines S.D., García-Charton J.A., Lubchenco J., Reimer J., Sala E., Guidetti P., 2017. Ecological effects of full and partial protection in the crowded Mediterranean Sea: a regional meta-analysis. Scientific Reports 7, 8940; doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08850-w
Prato G., Thiriet P., Di Franco A., Francour P. 2017. Enhancing fish underwater visual census to move forward assessment of fish assemblages: an application in three Mediterranean marine protected areas. PLoS ONE, 12(6): e0178511.


Di Franco A.,Thiriet P., Di Carlo G., Dimitriadis C., Francour P., Gutiérrez N.L., Jeudy de Grissac A., Koutsoubas D., Milazzo M., del Mar Otero M., Piante C., Plass-Johnson J., Sainz-Trapaga S., Santarossa L., Tudela S., Guidetti P., 2016. Five key attributes can increase marine protected areas performance for small-scale fisheries management. Scientific Reports 6, 38135; doi: 10.1038/srep38135

Milazzo M., Quattrocchi F., Azzurro E., Palmeri A., Chemello R., Di Franco A., Guidetti P., Sala E., Sciandra M., Badalamenti F., García-Charton J.A., 2016. Warming-related shifts in the distribution of two competing coastal wrasses. Marine Environmental Research 120: 55-67.

Sahyoun R., Guidetti P., Di Franco A., Planes S., in press. Patterns of fish connectivity 1 between a marine protected area and surrounding fished areas. Plos One

Thiriet P.D., Di Franco A., Cheminée A., Guidetti P., Bianchimani O., Basthard-Bogain S., Cottalorda J.M., Arceo H., Moranta J., Lejeune P., Francour P., Mangialajo L., 2016. Abundance and diversity of crypto- and necto-benthic coastal fish are higher in marine forests than in structurally less complex macroalgal assemblages. Plos One 11(10): e0164121. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164121.

Di Lorenzo M., Vega Fernández T., Badalamenti F., Guidetti P., Starr R. M., Giacalone V. M., Di Franco A., D’Anna G., in press. Diel activity and variability in habitat use of white sea bream in a temperate Marine Protected Area. Marine Environmental Research

Calò A., Di Franco A., De Benedetto G.E., Pennetta A., Pérez-Ruzafa A., García-Charton J.A. in press. Propagule dispersal and larval patch cohesiveness in a Mediterranean coastal fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Ape F., Arigò C., Gristina M., Genovese L., Di Franco A., Di Lorenzo M., Baiata P., Aglieri G., Milisenda G., Mirto S., in press. Meiofaunal diversity and nematode assemblages in two submarine caves of a mediterranean Marine Protected Area. Mediterranean Marine Science.


Di Franco A., Calò A., Pennetta A., De Benedetto G., Planes S., Guidetti P., 2015. Dispersal of larval and juvenile seabream: Implications for Mediterranean marine protected areas. Biological Conservation 192: 361–368. Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.015
Bussotti S., Di Franco A., Francour P., Guidetti P., 2015. Fish assemblages of Mediterranean marine caves. PlosOne 10(4): e0122632. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122632.
Di Franco A., Gianni F., Guidetti P., in press. Mismatch in early life traits between settlers and recruits in a Mediterranean fish: clue of the relevance of the settlement tail? Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria.



Guidetti P., Baiata P, Ballesteros E., Di Franco A., Hereu B., Macpherson E., Micheli F., Pais A., Panzalis P., Rosenberg A.A., Zabala M., Sala E., 2014. Large-scale assessment of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas effects on fish assemblages. PLoS ONE 9(4): e91841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091841
Di Franco A., Bulleri F., Pennetta A., De Benedetto G., Clarke K.R., Guidetti P., 2014. Within-otolith variability in chemical fingerprints: implications for sampling designs and possible environmental interpretation. PLoS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101701
Di Carlo G., Di Franco A., Montefalcone M., 2014. Seagrasses: advancing Mediterranean research from genes to seascapes. Aqautic Botany 115: 1-2.



Di Franco A., Baiata P., Milazzo M., 2013. Effects of recreational scuba diving on Mediterranean fishes: evidence of involuntary feeding? Mediterranean Marine Science 14: 15-18.
Di Franco A., Di Lorenzo M., Guidetti P, 2013. Spatial patterns of density at multiple life stages in protected and fished conditions: an example from a Mediterranean coastal fish. Journal of Sea Research 76: 73-81.
Di Franco A., Qian K., Calo’ A., Di Lorenzo M., Planes S., Guidetti P., 2013. Assessing patterns of variability in early life traits: the case study of a Mediterranean coastal fish. Submitted to Marine Ecology Progress Series 476: 227-235.
Pujolar J.M., Schiavina M., Di Franco A. , Melia’ P., Guidetti P., Gatto M., De Leo G.A., Zane L, 2013. Understanding the effectiveness of marine protected areas using genetic connectivity patterns and Lagrangian simulations. Diversity and Distributions 19:1531–1542.
Papetti C., Di Franco A., Zane L., Guidetti P., De Simone V., Spizzotin M., Zorica B., Kec V.C., Mazzoldi C, 2013. Single population and common natal origin for Adriatic Scomber scombrus stocks : evidence from an integrated approach. ICES – Journal of Marine Science 70: 387-398.



Di Franco A., Coppini G., Pujolar J.M., De Leo G.A., Gatto M., Lyubartesv V., Melia’ P., Zane L., Guidetti P, 2012. Assessing Dispersal Patterns of Fish Propagules from an effective Mediterranean Marine Protected Area. Plos One 7(12):e52108. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0052108
Di Franco A., Gillanders B.M., De Benedetto G., Pennetta A., De Leo G.A., Guidetti P., 2012. Dispersal Patterns of Coastal Fish: Implications for Designing Networks of Marine Protected Areas. PlosONE 7(2): e31681. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031681.
Sala E., Ballesteros E., Dendrinos E., Di Franco A., Ferretti F., Foley D., Fraschetti S., Friedlander A., Garrabou J., Guclusoy H., Guidetti P., Halpern B.S., Hereu B., Karamanlidis A., Kizilkaya K., Macpherson E., Mangialajo L., Mariani S., Micheli F., Riser K., Sales M., Starr R., Selkoe K.A., Tomas F., Zabala M., 2012. The structure of Mediterranean rocky reef ecosystems across environmental and human gradients, and conservation implications. PlosONE 7(2): e32742. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032742.
Sahyoun R., Bussotti S., Di Franco A., Navone A., Panzalis P., Guidetti P., 2012. Protection effects on Mediterranean fish assemblages associated with different rocky habitats. Journal of The Marine Biological Association UK 93: 425-435. doi: 10.1017/S0025315412000975



Di Franco A., Guidetti P., 2011. Patterns of variability in early-life traits of fishes depend on spatial scale of analysis. Biology Letters 7: 454–456. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1149.
Di Franco A., Graziano M., Franzitta G., Felline S., Chemello R., Milazzo M., 2011. Do small marinas drive habitat specific impacts? A case study from Mediterranean Sea. Marine Pollution Bullettin 62: 926–933. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.02.053.
Di Franco A., De Benedetto G., De Rinaldis G., Raventos N., Sahyoun R., Guidetti P., 2011. Large scale variability in otolith microstructure and microchemistry: the case study of Diplodus sargus sargus (Sparidae) in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian Journal of Zoology 78(2): 182–192.



Di Franco A., Ferruzza G., Baiata P., Chemello R., Milazzo M., 2010. Can recreational scuba divers alter natural gross sedimentation rate? A case study from a Mediterranean deep cave. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67(5): 871-874.


Di Franco A., Bussotti S., Navone A., Panzalis P., Guidetti P., 2009. Effects of total and partial restrictions to fishing on Mediterranean rocky-reef fish assemblages. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 387: 275-285.
Di Franco A., Marchini A., Milazzo M., Baiata P., Chemello R., 2009. "Developing a Scuba Trail Vulnerability Index (STVI): a case study from a Mediterranean MPA.". Biodiversity and Conservation, (18): 1201-1207.
Di Franco A., Milazzo M., Baiata P., Chemello R., 2009. Evaluation of scuba divers’ behaviour and of its effects on the biotic component of a Mediterranean MPA. Environmental Conservation, (36): 32-40.


PhD thesis abstract:

Marine protected areas (MPAs) can allow the recovery of species heavily exploited elsewhere. MPAs can also provide benefits to outer fished areas through ‘spillover’ of both juveniles and adults. Fisheries enhancement may also take place in outer areas via egg/larval export from MPAs. Little information is available, from this perspective, on the potential of MPAs to export propagules (i.e. eggs and larvae) as well as about the movement patterns of juvenile fish stages (i.e. settlers and post-settlers). Information on spatial connectivity and dispersal is crucial to understand the degree to which MPAs may 1) sustain fish stocks within their borders and/or in outside fished areas, and 2) possibly replenish other MPAs within an effective network. Using different techniques (visual census, otolith microstructure and microchemistry analysis, lagrangian models) we investigated the potential of Torre Guaceto MPA (TGMPA, Apulia, SE Italy) as an effective “source” of larvae/juveniles of the white sea bream (Diplodus sargus sargus) by assessing dispersal patterns and related connectivity at both larval and post-settlement stages.

Results showed that TGMPA hosts high densities and biomass of spawners, that would potential drive to an high eggs/larval production able to replenish both TGMPA itself and the unprotected area down-current, where high densities of post-settlers were recorded. Dispersal of larvae and post-settlers occurred over up to 100-200 and 30 km, respectively, providing evidence for spatial connectivity between TGMPA and outer sites (and vice versa). This multidisciplinary investigation is one of the few providing evidence for spatial connectivity and dispersal of coastal fish in the Mediterranean environment, focusing on the potential role of an MPA as an effective ‘source’ of fish eggs, larvae and juveniles. Analogous data from a number of relevant marine species would be crucial to effectively design MPA networks adapted to the specific geographic context.