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Habitat characteristics as determinant of the structure and spatial distribution of epibenthic and demersal communities of Le Danois Bank (Cantabrian Sea, N. Spain)

AuthorsSánchez, Francisco; Serrano, Alberto; Parra, Santiago; Ballesteros, M.; Cartes, Joan Enric
KeywordsLe Danois Bank
Benthic communities
Demersal communities
Cantabrian Sea
Faunal assemblages
Spatial distribution
Habitat characteristics
Issue DateJul-2008
CitationJournal of Marine Systems 72(1-4): 64-86 (2008)
AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to detect and describe general trends in the spatial distribution of epibenthic and demersal communities of Le Danois Bank (El Cachucho) in relation to the environmental variables that characterize their habitat by means of multivariate ordination. Data were derived from two multidisciplinary surveys carried out in October 2003 and April 2004 included in the ECOMARG project. The surveys were focused on the study of the physical scenario, including both geological (seabed characterization from bathymetry and backscatter data) and hydrographic features, and the different compartments of the benthic fauna (endobenthic, epibenthic, suprabenthic and demersal communities). For the present study, epibenthos and demersal species were sampled using two different gears, a 3.5 m beam trawl and a Porcupine 39/52 type baca otter trawl respectively. The total species richness combining both samplers ascended to 221, including 71 species of fishes, 65 crustaceans, 35 molluscs, 29 echinoderms, 10 cnidarians and 5 sponges.
Multivariate methods were used for the study of the characteristics of communities and habitats. Hierarchical cluster analysis was applied to calculate and visualize similarities between samples in terms of species composition. To assess the amount of variation of faunal densities related to a set of eight environmental variables, a redundancy analysis (RDA) was used. The set of environmental variables used were: depth, near-bottom temperature and salinity, sedimentary typology (dry weight percentages of coarse sands, medium and fine sands, silt and organic matter) and seafloor reflectivity. Using the spatial distribution of the ranges of depth and seafloor reflectivity that characterize the habitats of the faunal assemblages we defined the spatial distribution of the different communities.
The multivariate analysis of 18 beam-trawl samples and 15 otter trawl samples showed the existence of 4 main assemblages associated with the more characteristic habitats of the area. The Callogorgia–Chimaera community live mainly in the areas at the top of the Bank (425–550 m depth), where the sediment coverage is lower and there exists a high presence of rocky outcrops. The Gryphus–Galeus community were found in the areas at the top of the Bank covered by medium and fine sand sediments with low organic matter content. The Phormosoma–Trachyrincus community live on the sedimentary terraces that characterize the Bank break (550–800 m) and the Pheronema–Deania community occupy all the deeper (800–1050 m) sedimentary grounds of the inner basin.
Description23 pages, 11 figures, 6 table, 1 appendix.-- Available online Dec 10, 2007.-- Issue title: "Oceanography of the Bay of Biscay".
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2007.04.008
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