Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 1 (2011)

Faunistic assemblages of a sublittoral coarse sand habitat of the northwestern Mediterranean

Eva Pubill
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Pere Abelló
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Montserrat Ramón
Instituto Español de Oceanografía - Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Marc Baeta
Tecnoambiente S.L. , Spain


The sublittoral megabenthic assemblages of a northwestern Mediterranean coarse sandy beach exploited for the bivalve Callista chione were studied. The spatial and bathymetric variability of its distinctive faunal assemblages was characterised by quantitative sampling performed with a clam dredge. The taxa studied were Mollusca Bivalvia and Gastropoda, Crustacea Decapoda, Echinodermata and Pisces, which accounted for over 99% of the total biomass. Three well-differentiated species assemblages were identified: (1) assemblage MSS (Medium Sand Shallow) in medium sand (D50=0.37 mm) and shallow waters (mean depth =6.5 m), (2) assemblage CSS (Coarse Sand Shallow) in coarse sand (D50=0.62 mm) in shallow waters (mean depth =6.7 m), and (3) assemblage CSD (Coarse Sand Deep) in coarse sand (D50=0.64 mm) in deeper waters (mean depth =16.2 m). Assemblage MSS was characterised by the codominance of the bivalves Mactra stultorum and Acanthocardia tuberculata. C. chione was dominant in both density and biomass in assemblages CSS and CSD. The occurrence of the crab Thia scutellata also characterised assemblage CSS, whereas the occurrence of the sea urchin Echinocardium mediterraneum characterised assemblage CSD. A depth breaking point of around 10 m determined the discontinuity between assemblages CSS and CSD, which was related to the closure depth of the beaches in the study area. Species richness was highest in the coarse sand communities; however, Shannon-Wiener diversity and Pielou equitability indexes were higher in the shallow fine sand community.


sublittoral; megabenthos; faunal assemblages; sediment characteristics; biodiversity; NW Mediterranean; coarse sand; Bivalvia; Crustacea

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