, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 41-57

Mediterranean octocorallian communities and the abiotic environment

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Octocorallian communities (Coelenterata: Anthozoa) were investigated in 40 underwater stations near Banyuls-sur-Mer (France), as representatives of Mediterranean benthic fauna. The stations, with depths ranging from 0.3 to 40 m, were all sampled by means of SCUBA-diving. Along with a faunistic inventory, the main abiotic properties of each station were examined, such as irradiance, temperature, water movement, slope and presence of sediment. By means of cluster analysis and factor analysis, the main properties of which are briefly outlined in this paper, the existence of 5 separate communities is demonstrated. Two major abiotic factors emerge from this study, viz. submarine daylight and the presence or absence of sediment. Although community structures are found to be correlated with the physical environment, no causal relationships have been established. It is suggested that the tolerance of larval and young adult stages play an important role in this respect.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Hamburg