Scientia Marina, Vol 62, No 1-2 (1998)

Origin and biogeography of the deep-water Mediterranean Hydromedusae including the description of two new species collected in submarine canyons of Northwestern Mediterranean

J. M. Gili
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Spain

J. Bouillon
Laboratoire de Biologie Marine, Facultés des Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

F. Pages
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Spain

A. Palanques
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Spain

P. Puig
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Spain

S. Heussner
Laboratoire de Sédimentologie et Géologie Marine, Université de Perpignan, France


Two new species of hydromedusae (Foersteria antoniae and Cunina simplex) are described from plankton collected in sediment traps placed in the Lacaze-Duthiers Submarine Canyon and along Banyuls-sur-Mer coast (northwestern Mediterranean). The Mediterranean hydromedusan deep-water fauna contains 41 species which represent 45.5 % of the world-wide deep-sea hydromedusae fauna (90) and 20% of the total number of Mediterranean hydromedusae (204). The Mediterranean deep-water hydromedusan fauna is characterised by a large percentage of holoplanktonic species (61%), mainly Trachymedusae. Nevertheless, contrary to the general opinion, the percentage of meroplanktonic species is equally high. The most original features of this fauna lies however in the importance of the number of endemic species (22%) and in the fact that the majority of them are meroplanktonic Leptomedusae with a supposed bathybenthic stage. Some of the endemic species could still represent relics of the primitive Tethys fauna having survived to the Messinian crisis. The origin of the Mediterranean deep-water hydromedusan fauna is discussed and a general hypothesis is proposed.


Hydromedusae; submarine canyons; western Mediterranean; sediment traps; deep-sea fauna; biodiversity; Solmissus; Rhopalonematidae new diagnosis; Foersteria antoniae; Cunina simplex

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