Structure and dynamics of food webs in the water column on shelf and slope grounds of the western Mediterranean
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AuthorsValls-Mir, M. (María); Sweeting, C.J. (Christofer J.); Olivar, M.P. (Maria Pilar); Fernández-de-Puelles, M.L. (María Luz); Pasqual, C. (Catalina); Polunin, N.V.C. (Nicholas V.C.); Quetglas, A. (Antoni)
Benthic–pelagic coupling is an important process connecting species throughout the water column, particularly, in deep-sea systemswhere faunal assemblages can be dense if indirectly sustained by production fromthe above. Through stable isotope analyses, this study explored the sources of production, trophic structure, and benthopelagic coupling in two locations with contrasting oceanographic conditions from the western Mediterranean, in the Balearic (BsB) and the Algerian (AsB) sub-basins. The samples of 89 dominant species (23 decapods, 19 cephalopods, 33 fishes, among the other taxa), inhabiting the hyperbenthic and pelagic domains, from the shelf break (250 m), upper slope (650 m), and middle slope (850 m) were analyzed. Results suggested long food webs of approximately four trophic levels (TrLs) that were sustained by planktonic source material in shallowerwaters and degraded particulate organic matter of planktonic origin in deeperwaters.Most of the collected species (70%) ...