Distribution patterns of marine cave fishes and the potential role of the cardinal fish
Fish assemblages associated with 16 marine caves were investigated along the coasts of Spain, France and Italy. Sampling was done in caves that encompassed blind caves (one entrance) and caves with several openings, remarkably variable in morphology, overall extension, presence/absence of ceiling, and characteristics of the bottom. On the whole, 33 fish species were recorded. The distribution patterns of fish assemblages (both in terms of density and biomass) showed a significant variability at the regional (hundreds of kms) and local scale (kms/hundreds of meters), which confirms the great heterogeneity of the cave-associated communities. In terms of occurrence, only the cardinal fish Apogon imberbis and the gobid Corcyrogobius liechtensteini were found in all 16 caves, followed by Scorpaena notata and Serranus cabrilla (n = 15) and Diplodus vulgaris and Didogobius splechtnai (n = 11). A significant number of species were occasionally found, like Sarpa salpa and Diplodus annularis. They usually occur outside caves and could be considered as “sporadic cave visitors”. The high densities of A. imberbis and its frequency of occurrence shows that this species is by far the most represented fish within caves in the western Mediterranean. In spite of the conspicuous variation from cave to cave (from 10 to 70% of the whole fish biomass), a general pattern emerges showing that A. imberbis accounts for a significant proportion of the fish biomass. Average density and biomass of A. imberbis are significantly variable at regional scale (hundreds of kms), but not at local scale (kms/hundred meters). A similar pattern could be explained by multiple processes acting concurrently. Although further studies are needed (e.g. to prove nychthemeral movements inside–outside caves for feeding), this study shows that, based on its density and biomass, A. imberbis has the potential to fulfill a crucial trophic role within Mediterranean marine caves as a vector of organic matter.
Auteurs du document :
Simona Bussotti, Antonio Di Franco, Alexis Pey, Jean-Vincent Vieux-Ingrassia, Serge Planes, Paolo Guidetti
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Mots clés :
fish fauna, cave habitats, spatial distribution, visual census, biodiversity