Research Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 297-309

Spatio-temporal variations of biomass and abundance in bathyal non-crustacean megafauna in the Catalan Sea (North-western Mediterranean)

  • Eva Ramírez-LlodraAffiliated withInstitut de Ciències del Mar (CMIMA-CSIC) Email author 
  • , Manuel BallesterosAffiliated withFacultat de Biologia, Dept. Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona
  • , Joan B. CompanyAffiliated withInstitut de Ciències del Mar (CMIMA-CSIC)
  • , Luis DantartAffiliated withFacultat de Biologia, Dept. Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona
  • , Francisco SardàAffiliated withInstitut de Ciències del Mar (CMIMA-CSIC)

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Abstract

The spatio-temporal variations in diversity, biomass and abundance of bathyal invertebrates (excluding decapod crustaceans, which have been analysed elsewhere) from the North-western Mediterranean margin are described. The upper canyon (∼450 m), middle slope (∼650 m) and lower slope (∼1,200 m) habitats were investigated throughout the year. The first two sites are visited daily by a specialised commercial fisheries’ fleet, while the deeper site has not been impacted by fishing activities. A total of 140 species from 12 phyla were collected from the 3 study areas. Of these, the Mollusca, Echinodermata, Polychaeta and Cnidaria were the most speciose groups. The patterns of species diversity (H′) and evenness (E) were similar in time and space. The upper canyon and middle-slope sites were dominated by echinoderms and molluscs, while the lower-slope site was dominated by cnidarians and sponges. Multifactorial ANOVA showed significant spatio-temporal differences in the biomass and/or abundance only in echinoderms, molluscs, cnidarians and polychaetes. The faunal differences observed were explained by habitat type, but not by season. The role of submarine canyons and commercial fishing on shaping the diversity and biomass of bathyal Mediterranean invertebrates is discussed.