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Megabenthic assemblages in the continental shelf edge and upper slope of the Menorca Channel, Western Mediterranean Sea

Grinyó, Jordi; Gori, Andrea; Greenacre, Michael; Requena, Susana; Canepa, Antonio; Lo Iacono, Claudio; Ambroso, Stefano; Purroy, Ariadna; Gili, Josep-Maria. 2018 Megabenthic assemblages in the continental shelf edge and upper slope of the Menorca Channel, Western Mediterranean Sea. Progress in Oceanography, 162. 40-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2018.02.002

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Abstract/Summary

Highly diverse megabenthic assemblages dominated by passive and active suspension feeders have been recently reported in shelf edge environments of the Mediterranean Sea. Due to their frequent association with species of commercial interest, these assemblages have been heavily impacted by fishing. The vulnerability and low resilience of these assemblages, composed mainly by long-living and slow-growing species, have motivated the implementation of management measures such as the restriction of bottom trawling, and the establishment of large protected areas embracing these environments. The Menorca Channel is one of such areas recently included in the European Union Natura 2000 network. Quantitative analysis of video transects recorded at 95–360 m depth by manned submersible and remotely operated vehicles were used to characterize megabenthic assemblages and to assess their geographical and bathymetric distribution. Six different assemblages were identified, mainly segregated by substrate type and depth. Hard substrates hosted coral gardens and sponge grounds, whereas soft sediments were mainly characterized by large extensions of the crinoid Leptometra phalangium and the brachiopod Gryphus vitreus. The good preservation of most of the observed assemblages is probably related to a low bottom trawling pressure, which mainly concentrates deeper on the adjacent continental slope. Because of their biological and ecological value, management and conservation measures need to be established to preserve these benthic assemblages.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2018.02.002
ISSN: 00796611
Date made live: 18 Jun 2018 13:58 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/520299

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