Distribution of meiobenthos at bathyal depths in the Mediterranean Sea. A comparison between sites of contrasting productivity
Keywords:meiobenthos, deep-sea, bathyal, Mediterranean Sea, Balearic Sea, Ionian Sea
In order to study the distribution of meiobenthos (Metazoa and Foraminifera) at bathyal depths along a west-east productivity gradient in the Mediterranean Sea, stations along the continental slopes of the Balearic Sea, west Ionian and east Ionian Seas were sampled during the DESEAS Trans-Mediterranean Cruise in June-July 2001. Standing stock of total meiobenthos differed considerably among the sampling stations, with marked differences occurring between sampling depths and sites. At 600 m depth, meiobenthic abundances were slightly higher over the Balearic continental slope, whereas at the deeper stations (800 m and 1500-1700 m), abundances were significantly higher in the west Ionian Sea. Significant relationships were found between the abundances of major groups and the chloroplastic pigments, indicating that food availability is a major factor controlling the distribution of meiobenthos. Apart from the overall differences in productivity between the western and eastern Mediterranean Sea, local hydrographic features and topographic differences greatly influence the spatial variability of the environmental parameters within each sub-basin and thus the distribution of meiobenthos in the bathyal zone.
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