Zonation patterns of benthic communities in an upwelling area from de western Mediterranean (La Herradura, Alboran Sea)

Species composition and distribution of marine benthic communities from La Herradura (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean) are described to characterise its rocky and sedimentary bottoms bionomically. Rocky bottoms were studied by means of several underwater transects and soft bottoms with fixed stations along a bathymetric gradient. The study of the floristic and faunistic composition of the rocky benthic communities highlights depth as the main axis of variation. Factorial Correspondence Analysis segregates deep-water communities below 25 m depth (circalittoral communities) from shallower communities (axis I), and communities thriving between 5 and 25 m depth (lower infralittoral communities) from communities thriving close to the surface (shallow infralittoral communities) (axis II). The study of the sedimentary bottoms also suggests that depth, together with physical sedimentary properties, is the main axis of variation in species distribution. Floristic and faunistic records show the particular composition of La Herradura benthic communities, compared to Mediterranean and Atlantic ones. Mixing of Mediterranean and Atlantic waters, together with deep water upwelling episodes typical of this area, probably determine the peculiar composition of the benthic communities ​
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