Structural and Trophic Variations in a Bathyal Community in the Ligurian Sea

  • S. Schiaparelli
  • M. Chiantore
  • R. Cattaneo-Vietti
  • F. Novelli
  • N. Drago
  • G. Albertelli


The structure of a Mediterranean bathyal community living between 400 and 700 m depth in front of Portofino Promontory (Ligurian Sea) has been investigated, using sets of data collected in 1981 and 1996 respectively. Percent community composition, total density and biomass don’t show any significant change, at least on the whole. Although total species number found in the two considered years is comparable, as well as diversity and evenness values, the specific composition shows an almost complete substitution. In particular, the disappearance of epifaunal species, mainly of large size, is outstanding. A real biocoenotical change did not occur, as evidenced by the qualitative (species dominance) and quantitative (numerical dominance) analyses of biocoenotical stocks, which show only a light increase in abundance of limicolous species and species linked to deep muds (VP) versus coastal terrigenous muds (VTC). Conversely, multivariate analysis evidences a clear clustering of 1996 and 1981 data due to presence/absence or different abundance of some key species: Amphilepis norvegica, Spiophanes kroyeri rejssi and Amphiura filiformis are present only in 1981, Aricidea quadrilobata and Paradoneis lyra appear in 1996. The analysis of community trophic structure highlights a significant increase of carnivorous species (mainly scavengers), mostly in terms of numerical dominance, opposed to a strong decrease of deposit-feeders.

The traditional use of descriptive tools, such as species number, total density and biomass lead to the classic hypothesis of general stability of bathyal communities. Conversely, changes in faunal composition of the bathyal benthic community of the Portofino Promontory were stressed only through the coupling of uni- and multi-variate approaches, suggesting that deepsea benthic assemblages are not so stable as usually considered, probably partly because of small-scale changes in sedimentary regime (natural and anthropogenic) and heavy fishing trawling activities, both affecting the surface sediments, determining unfavourable conditions for the epifauna and favouring, instead, omnivorous and scavenger species.


Numerical Dominance Epifaunal Species Percent Dominance Bathymetric Level Community Trophic Structure 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Schiaparelli
    • 1
  • M. Chiantore
    • 1
  • R. Cattaneo-Vietti
    • 1
  • F. Novelli
    • 1
  • N. Drago
    • 1
  • G. Albertelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento per lo Studio del Territorio e delle Sue RisorseUniversità di GenovaGenovaItaly

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