Scientia Marina, Vol 68, No S3 (2004)

The limit of the sea: the bathyal fauna of the Levantine Sea


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.2004.68s363

Bella S. Galil
National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Israel

Abstract


In the present study, the fish, molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms collected at depths between 734 and 1558 m during a series of cruises conducted between 1988 and 1999 off the coast of Israel, supplemented by a photographic survey carried out southwest of Cyprus at a depth of 2900 m, were analysed. The main objectives were to determine the faunal composition of the bathybenthic assemblages in the southeastern Levantine Sea, and to compare them with the western Mediterranean assemblages in order to elucidate whether general trends in their bathymetric distribution and population density may be related to environmental/geographic factors. Considering the sampling effort, the diverse gear used and the extended period of sampling, we may assume that the low number of species and specimens recorded actually reflects a low-diversity, low-density deep water fauna. The faunal scarcity may cause a different parcelling of the populations which is reflected in bathymetric distributions that in many cases extend to greater depths than in the Western Mediterranean. The Levantine bathybenthos is composed of autochthonous, self-sustaining populations of opportunistic, eurybathic species that have settled there following the last sapropelic event.

Keywords


Mediterranean Sea; Levantine Sea; bathyal; diversity; abundance; bathymetric distribution; new records; fish; Decapoda; Amphipoda; Cumacea; Mollusca

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