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Macrobenthic community structure in the deep waters of the Red Sea
Joydas, T.V.; Qurban, M.A.; Ali, S.M.; Albarau, J.F.; Rabaoui, L.; Manikandan, K.P.; Ashraf, M.; Papadopoulos, V.P.; Giacobbe, S.; Krishnakumar, P.K. (2018). Macrobenthic community structure in the deep waters of the Red Sea. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 137: 38-56. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.dsr.2018.05.004
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part I. Oceanographic Research Papers. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0637; e-ISSN 1879-0119, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Deep-sea benthos; Oligotrophic; Diversity; Standing stock; Red Sea; Saudi Arabia

Authors  Top 
  • Joydas, T.V.
  • Qurban, M.A.
  • Ali, S.M.
  • Albarau, J.F.
  • Rabaoui, L.
  • Manikandan, K.P.
  • Ashraf, M.
  • Papadopoulos, V.P.
  • Giacobbe, S.
  • Krishnakumar, P.K.

Abstract
    Even though the Red Sea is characterized by unique oceanographic conditions, only few studies have addressed the ecology of its deep-sea benthos. This work discusses some traits of the Saudi deep waters of the Red Sea between 23°N and 28°N. Macrobenthic samples were collected using a box corer (0.1 m2 surface area) from 59 stations at depths ranging between 220 m and 1678 m. The stations were categorized into four depth zones (≤500 m, 501–750 m, 751–1000 m and >1000 m) and two latitudinal areas (northern and central) for data analysis. A total of 186 species have been identified including polychaetes (135), crustaceans (27), molluscs (18), echinoderms (3), echiuroid (1), sipunculoid (1), and oligochaete (1). While 114 species were present in only 1–3 stations, only 30 species were found to be widely distributed, being recorded in all depth zones from northern and central areas. The trophic structure analysis indicated high functional diversity with the presence of seven feeding levels represented mainly by surface deposit feeders, facultative detritivores, and benthic carnivores. In general, the density and biomass of the deep sea macrobenthic community studied herein are lower than those reported in other seas with similar depth zones. This is most likely due to the particular environmental factors of the Red Sea, represented mainly by its oligotrophic nature, high temperature, high salinity, and low food availability in the form of organic matter. It is worth noting that some ecological parameters considered showed a general decreasing pattern (density: 10–1666 ind. m−2; biomass: 0.02 – 10.98 g m−2; species richness S: 1–59; Shannon-Wiener diversity index H': 0 – 5.1) in relation with the increasing depth in northern and central areas. The bathymetric trends of the macrobenthic communities were also demonstrated with findings of multivariate analyses. The distribution of benthic communities at all depth zones appeared to be controlled by the availability of organic matter and abiotic factors such as temperature and salinity. Pronounced latitudinal and longitudinal trends in the macrobenthic communities are not evident, most likely due to the limited latitudinal and longitudinal variation of the sampling stations of this study. No spatial variations were found with the feeding types, species evenness index, and species dominance index. Considering the scarcity of published data on the deep benthic community from the Red Sea, this study provides some useful baseline information on this topic and contributes to decrease the knowledge gap on the diversity of macrobenthic communities in this region.

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