, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 61-73

Biological patterns and near-bottom population characteristics of two pasiphaeid decapod crustacean species, Pasiphaea sivado and P. multidentata , in the north-western Mediterranean Sea

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Biological aspects of the only two epi-/mesopelagic pasiphaeid species distributed along the continental marginof the north-western Mediterranean Sea were studied over the period 1991–1994. The annual reproductive cycle, reproductive output, sex and size distributions by depth (near-bottom distribution), and growth were analysed using 4156 specimens of Pasiphaea sivado (Risso, 1816) and 5491 specimens of P. multidentata Esmark, 1866. The reproductive cycle in the shallower-dwelling species, P. sivado, was nearly continuous, in contrast to the reproductive cycle in P. multidentata, which was markedly seasonal in nature. Both species exhibited similar size and population structure patterns with depth, with individual size increasing along the bottom depth gradient. The shallower-dwelling species had a significantly higher reproductive output level, in terms of the relative number of eggs, than the deeper-dwelling species. Biological trends for each of the species have been compared. The comparative results for these two congeneric species revealed that the biological parameters analysed were closely linked to their population structure. The slight differences in the depth range inhabited by each species have been considered the main environmental factor affecting the life histories of these two species. The data presented supported the hypothesis that depth exerted an important influence on the biological patterns of deep-water species, with the seasonality of reproductive processes increasing in deeper-dwelling species.