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Fish assemblages in shallow marine caves of the Salento Peninsula (Southern Apulia, SE Italy)
Bussotti, S.; Denitto, F.; Guidetti, P.; Belmonte, G. (2002). Fish assemblages in shallow marine caves of the Salento Peninsula (Southern Apulia, SE Italy). Mar. Ecol. (Berl.) 23(Suppl. 1): 11-20.
In: Marine Ecology (Berlin). Blackwell: Berlin. ISSN 0173-9565, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Cavernicolous species; Caves; Marine fish; MED, Italy [Marine Regions]; MED: Apulia; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Bussotti, S.
  • Denitto, F.
  • Guidetti, P., more
  • Belmonte, G., more

    Fish assemblages of three shallow marine caves from the Salento Peninsula (Apulia, SE Italy) were investigated in July 2000. Data were collected in situ by using visual census. A total of nineteen fish species were recorded inside the caves. The species richness generally displayed a similar pattern in all three caves, decreasing from the entrance towards the innermost sections, whereas the patterns of total fish abundance differed among caves.Apogon imberbis (mainly represented by juveniles) was the most important species in terms of number of individuals (accounting for more than 85% of the censused fish) and showed a fairly even distribution inside the investigated caves. Without the numerical contribution of A. imberbis, fish abundance decreased from the entrance to the inner sections and this pattern was common to all three caves. Juvenile fishes of economic interest (e. g.,Diplodus vulgaris andEpinephelus marginatus) were also recorded inside. The present study suggests that: (1) environmental constraints could affect distribution patterns in fish species richness and in the abundance of several fish along the axis of "blind caves" (with a single entrance), as already observed for sessile benthos and plankton assemblages; (2) shallow marine caves of the Salento Peninsula could exert the role of refuge and/or nursery for some littoral fish species during the adult and/or juvenile stages of their life histories.

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