The near-bottom layer as an ecological boundary in marine ecosystems: diversity, taxonomic composition and community definitions

  • Jean-Claude Dauvin
  • Carole Vallet
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 183)


The near-bottom layer of the ocean represents a boundary between two oceanic biotopes (pelagial and benthal), and as a result, the animal populations living in this habitat belong to various diverse ecological groups. There is a profusion of terms to designate the organisms which live near the sea bottom, both in relation to their behaviour and to boundary-layer hydrodynamics. Do the fauna living above the sea bottom form a true community? Should the fauna in this habitat be considered as a true community or a mixed assemblage comprised of benthic and pelagic organism? Between 1988 and 1996, more than 500 suprabenthic hauls were taken with a modified Macer-GIROQ sledge at 15 sites in the English Channel and the Seine Estuary (5–70 m), at 13 sites on the southern edge of the Cap Ferret Canyon (Bay of Biscay, 350– 1100 m), and at 8 sites on the Atlantic seamounts south of the Azores (260–2235 m). This intensive sampling permitted the collection of more than several hundred species and will serve to facilitate discussion concerning the biodiversity of the fauna collected near the sea bottom. This paper proposes that in the estuary, the near-bottom layer is colonized by a mixed assemblage of both pelagic and benthic organisms, while in the coastal and in the bathyal zones, the response to the gradual extinction of light and the decreasing benthic resuspension at near-bottom depths leads to an ecocline.

Key words

benthic boundary layer near-bottom community ecological boundary ecocline 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Claude Dauvin
    • 1
  • Carole Vallet
    • 2
  1. 1.Station Marine de Wimereux, UMR CNRS 8013 ELICOUniversite’ des Sciences et Technologies de LilleWimereuxFrance
  2. 2.Maison de la Recherche en Environnement Naturel, UMR CNRS 8013 ELICOUniversite’ du Littoral CÔte d’OpaleWimereuxFrance

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