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Patterns of bathymetric distribution among deep-sea fauna at local spatial scale: comparison of mainland vs. insular areas

AuthorsCartes, Joan Enric CSIC ORCID ; Maynou, Francesc CSIC ORCID ; Moranta, Joan CSIC ORCID; Massutí, Enric; Lloris, Domingo CSIC; Morales-Nin, Beatriz CSIC ORCID
Issue DateJan-2004
CitationProgress in Oceanography 60(1): 29-45 (2004)
AbstractWe have compared the distribution of mesopelagic, benthopelagic and benthic fauna between two areas: one on the continental side of the Catalan Sea (cCS: northwestern Mediterranean) and one to the SW of the Balearic Islands (SWB: southwestern Mediterranean) at depths between 147 and 2266 m. Based on 88 bathyal fish and crustaceans (Decapoda and Peracarida) dominant in these communities, we compared the maximum depth of occurrence (MDO) of (upper) middle-slope species and the minimum depth of occurrence (mDO) of lower-slope dwelling species. Mid-slope fish, decapods, peracarids and, within the latter, amphipods and cumaceans had a deeper MDO in the cCS than in the SWB. Depth differences between MDO of species were significant for all taxa, except isopods. In the same way, lower slope fish and decapods had a shallower mDO in the SWB than in the cCS. Within peracarids, the dominant taxon (amphipods) also followed this trend. Depth differences in mDO of species between the areas were significant for decapods and for amphipods (not for fish, nor all peracarids nor cumaceans). In summary, most taxa showed a deeper depth distribution of middle-slope species in the cCS, and a shallower depth distribution of lower-slope dwelling species in the SWB. This suggests that the whole community, from small detritus-feeders (peracarids) to top predators (fish) have a similar response to a common signal. Much basic information on the biology and possible environmental factors affecting deep-sea species distribution is not available, so causes of the trends demonstrated here cannot be fully evaluated. In spite of these obvious limitations, we have shown that (1) mesopelagic decapods (e.g., Gennadas elegans and Sergia robusta), with a higher dependence upon primary sources of food close to the surface primary production, showed greater differences in their mDO between the areas than benthopelagic (e.g., Acanthephyra eximia, Nematocarcinus exilis) and benthic (e.g., Stereomastis sculpta, Munida tenuimana, Geryon longipes) species, and (2) fish at lower trophic levels, deduced from fractional trophic levels, showed higher differences in the MDO than fish at higher trophic levels. Trophic position of species in food webs seems the most important factor affecting the distributional differences between contrasting areas
Description17 pages, 5 figures, 3 tables
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