, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 329-347
Date: 26 Feb 2009

Biological patterns and ecological indicators for Mediterranean fish and crustaceans below 1,000 m: a review

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Abstract

The Mediterranean Sea is a relatively deep, closed sea with high rates of fisheries exploitation. In recent years fishing activity has tended to shift towards deeper depths. At the same time, the Mediterranean displays some rather special hydrographic and biogeographic conditions. The present paper reviews the present state of knowledge of the fisheries, biology, and ecology of the deep-sea fish and crustacean species in the Mediterranean dwelling below 1,000 m with potential economic interest, placing special emphasis on the western basin, for which more data are available, as a basis for future studies of the ecology, biodiversity, and effects of climate change and exploitation in this zone. This review reveals that mediterranean deep-sea fishes and crustaceans employ highly conservative ecological strategies, and hence the low fecundity and low metabolic rates in a stable environment like the deep-sea make these populations highly vulnerable. Moreover, ripe females of the main species mentioned here concentrate in the deepest portions of their distribution ranges. Deep-sea fish and crustaceans have high trophic levels and low to medium omnivory index values. The ecological indices discussed here, in combination with the limited knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems, clearly call for an approach based on the Precautionary Principle.