Deep sea megafaunal assemblages off the northern Iberian slope related to environmental factors


  • Alberto Serrano Instituto Español de Oceanografía de Santander
  • Francisco Sánchez Instituto Español de Oceanografía de Santander
  • Antonio Punzón Instituto Español de Oceanografía de Santander
  • Francisco Velasco Instituto Español de Oceanografía de Santander
  • Ignacio Olaso Instituto Español de Oceanografía de Santander



deep-sea, slope, spatial distribution, megafaunal communities, demersal species, epibenthos, trophic guilds


Four deep sea fish and invertebrate assemblages from the northern Spanish slope were identified and related to geographic and bathymetric factors. The Peñas Cape comprises a boundary area splitting the more productive, wider and sandy western shelf from the less productive, narrow and muddy eastern part. The four faunal assemblages described were a shelf-slope transition assemblage (SST, 400-500 m); two upper slope assemblages (500-650 m), one corresponding to the western area of Cape Peñas and one to the eastern area; and a middle slope assemblage (650-750 m). The SST was dominated by plankton-feeding fish and was hence less diverse than the other strata. This dominance was more evident west of the Peñas Cape, where upwelling was stronger. Regarding invertebrates, plankton-feeding fish and benthos-feeding invertebrates dominated the SST, whereas zooplankton-feeding and deposit-feeding invertebrates dominated the middle slope. The western assemblages were richer in species as a consequence of a more complex food web, especially of guilds related to water column production: plankton-feeding fish and filter- and zooplankton-feeding invertebrates.


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How to Cite

Serrano A, Sánchez F, Punzón A, Velasco F, Olaso I. Deep sea megafaunal assemblages off the northern Iberian slope related to environmental factors. scimar [Internet]. 2011Sep.30 [cited 2022Sep.27];75(3):425-37. Available from:




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