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Keywords:

  • Deep-sea;
  • decapod crustaceans;
  • faunal zonation;
  • Sardinian deep-waters;
  • Mediterranean

Abstract

Community structure and faunal composition of bathyal decapod crustaceans off South-Eastern Sardinian deep-waters (Central-Western Mediterranean) were investigated. Samples were collected during 32 hauls between 793 and 1598 m in depth over the 2003–2007 period. A total of 1900 decapod specimens belonging to 23 species were collected. Multivariate analysis revealed the occurrence of three faunistic assemblages related to depth: (i) an upper slope community at depths of 793–1002 m; (ii) a middle slope community at depths of 1007–1212 m and (iii) a lower slope community at depths greater 1420 m. In the upper and middle slopes the benthic (Polycheles typhlops) and epibenthic–endobenthic feeders (mainly Aristeus antennatus and Geryon longipes), which eat infaunal prey, were dominant, followed by the macroplankton–epibenthic feeders such as Acanthephyra eximia and Plesionika acanthonotus. In the deepest stratum, the most remarkable feature was the prevalence of macroplankton–epibenthic feeders (A. eximia and P. acanthonotus). A small percentage of the benthic deep-sea lobster Polycheles sculptus was also present. The biomass presented higher values in the middle slope and declined strongly in the lower slope. There was no general pattern of mean individual weight/size versus depth among decapods, and the changes seemed to be species-specific with different trends.