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Community structure and dynamics of deep-water decapod assemblages from Le Danois Bank (Cantabrian Sea, NE Atlantic): Influence of environmental variables and food availability

AuthorsCartes, Joan Enric CSIC ORCID ; Serrano, Alberto; Velasco, Francisco; Parra, Santiago; Sánchez, Francisco
Issue Date26-Sep-2007
CitationProgress in Oceanography 75(4): 797-816 (2007)
AbstractThe community structure of the decapod crustaceans inhabiting Le Danois Bank (Cantabrian Sea, NE Atlantic Ocean) was studied on two cruises performed in October 2003 and April 2004. Otter and beam-trawls were used to collect this fauna. At depths ranging between 455 and 1048 m, we found distinct decapod assemblages on the bank summit and deeper in the inner basin (between the bank and the continental shelf). The faunal discontinuity between these groups appeared at around 600 m (e.g. between 612 and 642 m in the basis of species replacement). The summit assemblage was characterized by low diversity (in terms of number and relative abundances of species) and by the dominance of hermit crabs (Pagurus alatus, Anapagurus laevis, Pagurus excavatus), the crangonid Pontophilus spinosus and the squat lobster Munida sarsi. Species characterizing the deeper assemblage, which was richer in terms of diversity, were Munida tenuimana, Parapagurus pilosimanus, Pontophilus norvegicus, the crab Geryon trispinosus and a number of bathypelagic shrimps (Sergia robusta, Acanthephyra pelagica and Pasiphaea tarda). Changes in decapod composition characterized by multidimensional scaling analyses were correlated with different variables, e.g. %mud and %organic matter (OM), temperature and salinity close to the bottom. Among those the %OM and %mud in sediments affected decapod distributions the most. The summit of the bank was covered by fine sediments with low proportion of mud (13.9–29.3%) and OM (2.55–3.50%). By contrast, sediment of the inner basin had a higher proportion of OM and mud (64.1–84.2%; 6.26–7.00%, respectively). The low proportion of mud at the summit of Le Danois Bank may explain the absence or scarcity of burrowing species (e.g. the lobster Nephrops norvegicus, the shrimps Calocaris macandreae and Alpheus glaber and the crab Goneplax rhomboides), that are dominant at similar depths (400–500 m) in the upper muddy assemblage on the mainland-continental slope in the Bay of Biscay (44–46°N). The dominance of certain species on the summit of submarine mounts can probably be related to their biology and feeding ecology. For example, pagurids are deposit feeders, even consuming marine snow (e.g. Chl-a identified in guts of Pagurus alatus), and they have low gut fullness (probably indicating a capacity to withstand long periods under starvation), that would favour their adaptability to a rather unpredictable habitat such as Le Danois Bank summit. Regarding prey availability, zooplankton/micronekton and infauna distributed around Le Danois Bank showed different depth-related patterns. Among zooplankton, mesopelagic decapods, mysids, and fishes were absent at the bank summit, while euphausiids exhibited high abundances over the summit. No significant trends with depth were found for infauna abundance, and for instance polychaete densities were similar both at the summit and the inner basin. Therefore, prey availability was lower for summit assemblages regarding zooplankton/micronekton. Patterns in mean size vs. depth were species specific for decapods, and the possible role of the bank summit as a recruitment area was not general for the whole decapod assemblage
Description20 pages, 8 figures, 4 tables
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