Isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen of suprabenthic fauna in the NW Balearic Islands (western Mediterranean)

Madurell, T.; Fanelli, E.; Cartes, J.E.. 2008 Isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen of suprabenthic fauna in the NW Balearic Islands (western Mediterranean). Journal of Marine Systems, 71 (3-4). 336-345.

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Dynamics of suprabenthos and zooplankton were analyzed in two areas located in the NW (off Sóller harbour) and S (off Cabrera Archipelago) of Mallorca (Balearic Islands, western Mediterranean) at depths ranging between 135–780 m. Four stations situated respectively at 150 m (shelf-slope break), and at bathyal depths of 350, 650 and 750 m were sampled at bi-monthly intervals during six cruises performed between August 2003 and June 2004. Suprabenthos showed maximum biomass in both areas from late spring to summer (April to August), while minimum biomass was found in autumn (September–November). Though variable, temporal dynamics of zooplankton showed peaks of biomass in late winter and summer (February and June), while minimals occurred in autumn (August–September) and, at bathyal depths, in April. Suprabenthos (abundance; MDS analyses) showed a sample aggregation as a function of depth (3 groups corresponding to the shelf-slope break, upper slope — over 350 m; and the middle, deeper part of the slope — over 650–750 m), without any separation of hauls by season. By contrast, zooplankton samples were separated by season and not by depth. There was evidence of three seasonal groups corresponding to summer (June 2004–August 2003), autumn–winter (September and November 2003, February 2004), and spring (April 2004), being especially well established off Sóller. In general, suprabenthos was significantly correlated with the sediment variables (e.g. total organic matter content (% OM), potential REDOX), whereas zooplankton was almost exclusively dependent on Chl a at the surface, which suggests two different food sources for suprabenthos and zooplankton. The increase of suprabenthos abundance in April–June was paralleled by a sharp increase (ca. 2.8 times) in the %OM on sediment during the same period, coupled ca. 1–2 months of delay with the peak of surface Chl a recorded in February–March (from satellite imagery data). Suprabenthos biomass was also correlated with salinity close to the bottom, suggesting a link between suprabenthos abundance and changes in the oceanographic condition of water masses close to the bottom. It is suggested that a higher suprabenthos biomass recorded off Sóller in comparison to that off Cabrera in June could, in turn, be related to a seasonal inflow of Levantine Intermediate Water (LIW) in April–June in this area at mid bathyal depths (350–650 m). This trend would be based on: 1) it was evident only at mid-slope depths between 350–750 m, coinciding with the LIW distribution, and 2) it was not recorded among zooplankton (collected throughout the water column). The possible effect of the fluctuations of suprabenthos and zooplankton on higher trophic levels has been explored studying the diet and food consumption rates of the red shrimp Aristeus antennatus, as indicator species by its dominance in bathyal communities. A. antennatus increased its food consumption from February to April–June 2004 off Sóller, which in the case of large (CL > 40 mm) specimens was found in both areas. In addition, there was a shift of diet from winter to spring–early summer. In this last period, A. antennatus preyed upon euphausiids and mesopelagic decapods and fish, while benthos (e.g. polychaetes and bivalves) decreased in the diet. This indicates an increase in the food consumption and probably in the caloric content of the diet in pre-spawning females in April–June 2004, which is synchronized with the period when gonad development begins in A. antennatus females (May–June). Anyway, macrozooplankton, and not suprabenthos, is crucial as a high energetic food source in the coupling between food intake and reproduction in the red shrimp.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0924-7963
Additional Keywords: Suprabenthos; Zooplankton; Western Mediterranean; Bathyal communities; Trophic level; Aristeus antennatus
Date made live: 22 May 2008 +0 (UTC)

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