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Do Mediterranean fish assemblages associated with marine caves and rocky cliffs differ?
Bussotti, S.; Guidetti, P. (2009). Do Mediterranean fish assemblages associated with marine caves and rocky cliffs differ? Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 81(1): 65-73. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2008.09.023
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 142211 [ MOA ]

Keywords
    Fish; Reefs; Rocks; Sea caves; Spatial distribution; MED, Mediterranean [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Bussotti, S.
  • Guidetti, P., more

Abstract
    Fish assemblages associated with marine caves and rocky cliffs were investigated in the Salento Peninsula (SE Italy, Mediterranean Sea) by using visual census methods. Sampling was done at three sites, each of which included 4 habitat types: the external and the internal portions of caves, and shallow and deep rocky cliffs. 10 and 13 species were found exclusively inside cave habitats (e.g. Corcyrogobius lichtensteini, Thorogobius ephippiatus and Grammonus ater) or in rocky cliffs (e.g. Diplodus annularis, Sarpa salpa, Sparisoma cretense, Spondyliosoma cantharus), respectively. The four habitat types shared 10 species, and the external portions of the caves shared the most species (both with the internal cave portions and the external rocky cliffs). As a general rule, dissimilarity in the fish assemblage structure between habitats was far greater than dissimilarity between sites. Apogon imberbis (mostly associated with caves) and Chromis chromis (typifying rocky cliffs, mainly the deep ones) mostly contributed to dissimilarities between caves and rocky cliffs. Apogon imberbis (mostly associated with internal caves) and Coris julis (mainly associated to external cave portions) contributed strongly to dissimilarities between internal and external cave portions, while C. chromis, Symphodus mediterraneus and C. julis (associated with the deeper cliffs) and Thalassoma pavo (mostly present in shallow cliffs) differentiated deep and shallow cliffs. Diplodus vulgaris, Oblada melanura and Mullus surmuletus showed a marked increase in density during the cold season in the caves. These results show that fish assemblages associated with rocky reefs rich in marine caves (in terms of relative densities, species composition, species richness, exclusive species and presence of juveniles of some valuable species) may be affected by the peculiar ecological conditions within caves, which could provide additional resources for fishes (e.g. food availability, refuge against predators, sand patches within a rocky matrix) compared to rocky reefs without caves. These results suggest that stretches of rocky coasts rich in marine caves should be considered within management/conservation programs (e.g. when establishing Marine Protected Areas).

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