Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 701–728 | Cite as

Biodiversity and habitat mapping of Menorca Channel (western Mediterranean): implications for conservation

  • C. Barberá
  • J. Moranta
  • F. Ordines
  • M. Ramón
  • A. de Mesa
  • M. Díaz-Valdés
  • A. M. Grau
  • E. Massutí
Original Paper

Abstract

Menorca Channel (Balearic Islands, western Mediterranean) comprises 98,700 Ha of continental shelf. It has been proposed to include this area in the Natura 2000 network due to the wide range of species and habitats of high conservation value found here, such as Posidonia oceanica meadows and maërl and coralligenous beds. This study aimed to establish a scientific basis for managing and protecting the continental shelf bottoms in Menorca Channel. Sampling was carried out with side-scan sonar, beam trawls, box corers, a remote-operated vehicle and an underwater drop camera. The information collected was used to map the habitat distribution between 50 and 100 m depth, as well as make an inventory and describe the spatial patterns of both the specific and functional diversity. A total of 636 species was recorded in a mosaic of habitats in which Corallinacea calcareous algae and other soft red algae (Osmundaria volubilis and Peyssonnelia spp.) were the most abundant groups. Hotspots of specific and functional diversity were located in areas with high habitat heterogeneity and complexity. Protection of Menorca Channel should not only include the habitats and species in the European directives, but also the habitats that are not currently protected, such as O. volubilis and Peyssonnelia beds, due to their biogeographical and ecological interest and their contribution to the biodiversity of shelf bottoms in the Mediterranean Sea.

Keywords

Biodiversity Conservation Management Seabed Habitats Benthos Maërl Functional diversity EUNIS Mediterranean 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the MarViva Foundation (www.marviva.net) for providing the R/V MarViva Med and also the crew and all the participants in the sampling and taxonomic classification: Abelló, P.; De Juan, S; Esteban, A.; Fernández-Pulpeiro, E.; Gili, J.M.; Guijarro, B.; Joher, S.; Junoy, J., Ortega, N.; Pomar, G., Ruiz, S.; Soto, J. and Valls, M. The study was financed by the Conselleria d’Agricultura i Pesca of the Government of the Balearic Islands within the Canal Project and in the framework of LIFE+ INDEMARES project: “Inventario y designación de la Red Natura 2000 en áreas marinas del Estado español”. Sonography was carried out by Tecmarin 1990 SL and financed by the MarViva Foundation. The authors also thank the valuable comments made by two anonymous referees, which helped to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2011_210_MOESM1_ESM.doc (725 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 736 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Barberá
    • 1
  • J. Moranta
    • 2
  • F. Ordines
    • 1
  • M. Ramón
    • 1
    • 3
  • A. de Mesa
    • 1
  • M. Díaz-Valdés
    • 1
  • A. M. Grau
    • 4
  • E. Massutí
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto Español de OceanografíaCentre Oceanogràfic de les BalearsPalmaSpain
  2. 2.Estació d’Investigació Jaume Ferrer, Instituto Español de OceanografíaCentre Oceanogràfic de les BalearsMaóSpain
  3. 3.Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Direcció General de Medi Rural i MaríGovern de les Illes BalearsPalmaSpain

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