Deep-sea megabenthic assemblages and associated ichthyological fauna in the Seco de los Olivos Bank (western Mediterranean Sea): Understanding its biodiversity composition and spatial distribution patterns

Rosa Maria Lorena Cañedo Apolaya
room 1
Session 2, August 26, 11:00-12:30

Seamounts represent ubiquitous deep-sea features harboring a great variety of life forms. However, quantitative information about the composition and structure of these communities is still scarce. Using a visual non-invasive methodology, the Seco de los Olivos Bank (western Mediterranean Sea) was surveyed along unexplored areas. A total of 62 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) grouped into five major assemblages were identified, which were mainly associated with the substrate type and primarily typified by massive sponges, black corals, sea pens and ray-finned fishes. In addition, taxonomic diversity patterns were also influenced by the different substrate types and flank orientation in a lesser extent. Hard substrates were usually characterized by similar values and soft substrates showed lower values but a wider variability due to the patchy distribution of some OTUs. We found a variety of human impact evidences (e.g., pieces of fishing lines, glass bottles and trawl mark). Nonetheless, a management plan is in progress aiming to regulate human activities in this site declared a site of ecological importance. The information obtained in this study should contribute to improve the monitoring of potential changes in biological assemblage patterns and thus, will help to improve conservation and management measurements in the Seco de los Olivos Bank