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Large Spatial Scale Variability in Bathyal Macrobenthos Abundance, Biomass, a- and b-Diversity along the Mediterranean Continental Margin
Baldrighi, E.; Lavaleye, M.; Aliani, S.; Conversi, A.; Manini, E. (2014). Large Spatial Scale Variability in Bathyal Macrobenthos Abundance, Biomass, a- and b-Diversity along the Mediterranean Continental Margin. PLoS One 9(9): e107261. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107261
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Baldrighi, E.
  • Lavaleye, M., more
  • Aliani, S.
  • Conversi, A.
  • Manini, E., more

Abstract
    The large-scale deep-sea biodiversity distribution of the benthic fauna was explored in the Mediterranean Sea, which can beseen as a miniature model of the oceans of the world. Within the framework of the BIOFUN project (‘‘Biodiversity andEcosystem Functioning in Contrasting Southern European Deep-sea Environments: from viruses to megafauna’’), weinvestigated the large spatial scale variability (over .1,000 km) of the bathyal macrofauna communities that inhabit theMediterranean basin, and their relationships with the environmental variables. The macrofauna abundance, biomass,community structure and functional diversity were analysed and the a-diversity and b-diversity were estimated across sixselected slope areas at different longitudes and along three main depths. The macrobenthic standing stock and a-diversitywere lower in the deep-sea sediments of the eastern Mediterranean basin, compared to the western and central basins. Themacrofaunal standing stock and diversity decreased significantly from the upper bathyal to the lower bathyal slope stations.The major changes in the community composition of the higher taxa and in the trophic (functional) structure occurred atdifferent longitudes, rather than at increasing water depth. For the b-diversity, very high dissimilarities emerged at all levels:(i) between basins; (ii) between slopes within the same basin; and (iii) between stations at different depths; this thereforedemonstrates the high macrofaunal diversity of the Mediterranean basins at large spatial scales. Overall, the food sources(i.e., quantity and quality) that characterised the west, central and eastern Mediterranean basins, as well as sediment grainsize, appear to influence the macrobenthic standing stock and the biodiversity along the different slope areas.

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