Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 4 (2011)

Influence of environmental factors on the dynamics of macrobenthic crustaceans on soft-bottoms of the Ebro Delta continental shelf (northwestern Mediterranean)

Silvia de Juan
Instituto de Ciencias del Mar-CSIC , Spain

Joan E. Cartes
Instituto de Ciencias del Mar-CSIC , Spain


Short-term temporal variability in infaunal crustacean communities was evaluated against environmental variability. The area of study was located at two stations at 45 and 60 m depth under the influence of the Ebro River. Differences in the relative abundance of crustacean species between sites might be related to the distance from the river, with higher organic matter supply and finer mud content near the river. There was a marked seasonal variability linked to high phytoplankton production in spring, which supplied organic matter to the benthos, inducing higher crustacean abundance. In late summer there was a reduction in the infaunal crustacean abundance and species richness that could have been caused by two factors: the establishment of the thermocline, which could limit the availability of organic matter to the seabed, and the high water temperatures, which caused the production of phytoplankton exudates and accumulation of mucilaginous aggregates over the seabed. The 45-m site was under the influence of otter-trawl fishing and precisely in this area the seasonal variability was not observed, probably masked by the effects of trawling impact.


Peracarida; benthos; spatial variations; muddy sediments; temperature; mucilaginous aggregates

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