Data from two experimental longline surveys and two video inspections carried out in Santa Maria di Leuca cold-water coral province (Mediterranean Sea) during spring-autumn 2010 were used in order to compare the benthopelagic abundance and diversity between coral and non-coral habitats and between different devices. The sampling was carried out in two types of habitat: a coral habitat with carbonate mounds and a non-coral habitat characterized by intermound sea floor. A Bayesian hierarchical modelling approach to accommodate factors influencing community assemblages was used considering the number of species, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index and the two most abundant species represented by the European conger (Conger conger) and blackbelly rosefish (Helicolenus dactylopterus). A relevant effect of the habitat factor was observed for both the number of species and the diversity index, showing a higher species number and diversity index in the coral habitat than in the non-coral habitat. Concerning the relevance of fixed effects from the model on the probability of observing non-zero (positive) abundances, the devices considered, longline and baited lander, did not show different influence for either C. conger or H. dactylopterus. In the case of positive abundance, a relevant device effect was only observed for H. dactylopterus, showing higher abundances for longline than for baited lander. A habitat effect was detected, with positive abundances for both species in the coral habitat. This study proves that structurally complex habitats generated by cold-water corals influence the distribution and diversity of the benthopelagic fauna, and that the use of different devices can provide complementary useful results. Increased knowledge about the role of cold-water corals in the associated benthopelagic fauna could lead to better conservation of one of the most important hot spots of biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea.
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|Titolo:||Revealing the coral habitat effect on benthopelagic fauna diversity in the Santa Maria di Leuca cold-water coral province using different devices and Bayesian hierarchical modelling|
CAPEZZUTO, FRANCESCA (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|