Large-scale distribution of a deep-sea megafauna community along Mediterranean trawlable grounds




distribution pattern, fishing impact, continental slope, deep sea, megafauna, red shrimp, community


The large-scale distribution pattern of megafauna communities along the Mediterranean middle slope was explored. The study was conducted between 500 and 800 m depth where deep-water fishery occurs. Although community studies carried out deeper than 500 m are partly available for some geographic areas, few large-scale comparative studies have been carried out. Within the framework of the MEDITS survey programme, we compared the megafauna community structure in ten geographical sub-areas (GSAs) along the Mediterranean coasts. Additionally, the spatial distribution of fishing was analysed using vessel monitoring by satellite information. Overall, the community showed a significant difference between sub-areas, with a decreasing eastward pattern in abundance and biomass. Longitude was the main factor explaining variation among sub-areas (by generalized additive models). However, we found a region which did not follow the general pattern. GSA 6 (northern Spain) showed significantly lower abundance and a different composition structure to the adjacent areas. The decrease in community descriptors (i.e. abundance and biomass) in this area is probably a symptom of population changes induced by intense fishery exploitation. Overall, a combination of environmental variables and human-induced impacts appears to influence the bentho-pelagic communities along the slope areas of the Mediterranean.


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How to Cite

Fernandez-Arcaya U, Bitetto I, Esteban A, Farriols MT, García-Ruiz C, Gil de Sola L, Guijarro B, Jadaud A, Kavadas S, Lembo G, Milisenda G, Maina I, Petovic S, Sion L, Vaz S, Massutí E. Large-scale distribution of a deep-sea megafauna community along Mediterranean trawlable grounds. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2019Dec.30 [cited 2024Jul.24];83(S1):175-87. Available from:




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