Biological characterisation of a subtidal tunnel in São Miguel island (Azores)

  • J. Micael
  • J. M. N. Azevedo
  • A. C. Costa
Part of the Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation book series (TOBC, volume 4)


Biological characterisation of the Santa Clara submarine tunnel in S. Miguel Island (Azores) is made. Spatial description of the cave is provided and zonation and stratification patterns of sessile epifauna are described. Profiles were based on sketches drawn in loco. Fauna census was conducted with non-destructive techniques: in loco observations complemented by still images. The tunnel is a 14-m long lava tunnel at 14 m depth. It is obstructed in the north end where a small opening permits light penetration and some water circulation. There are two entrances, two twilight zones and one middle dark zone. The floor of the tunnel is predominantly occupied by sponges, the polychaetes Pomatoceros triqueter and the coral Caryophyllia smithii. On vertical walls there were some encrusting sponges and a few corals such as C. inornata. On the ceiling the major groups found were individuals of C. inornata and Spirobranchus polytrema. Several crustacean species (e.g. Dromia marmorea, Scyllarus arctus and Stenopus spinosus) and fishes with sciaphylic habits (e.g. Apogon imberbis, Conger conger, Phycis phycis and Gaidropsarus guttatus) were also seen.

Key words

Biotic zonation Sessile organisms Special area of conservation Stratification Submarine lava tunnel 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Micael
    • 1
  • J. M. N. Azevedo
    • 1
  • A. C. Costa
    • 1
  1. 1.CIRN — Centro de Investigação de Recursos Naturais and Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade dos AçoresPonta DelgadaPortugal

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