DISTRIBUTION OF COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN BENTHIC MEGAFAUNA SPECIES IN RELATION WITH DEEP SEA ENVIRONMENTAL GRADIENTS
This analysis relates the spatial distribution of benthic megafauna species with estimated environmental variables gradients close to the seafloor, using data obtained along the Colombian Caribbean sea province. The data used correspond to samples of benthic megafauna obtained in 96 collection sites between 1999 and 2008 at a depth range between 15 and 900 m. The latitudinal distribution of higher taxa was analyzed through profiles of 100 km length from the coastline. Species accumulation curves with confidence intervals of 95 % were used to make comparisons. The distribution of benthic mega fauna was related to environmental parameters through statistical analysis (auto-spatial correlation, correspondence analysis, and hierarchical clustering). The depth was identified as the main factor regulating the distribution of assemblages. Species that separated the assemblages were defined: the deep-water shrimp Glyphocrangon neglecta, the solitary coral Deltocyathus eccentricus, the shrimp Penaeopsis serrata, the squat lobster Agononida longipes, the brittle star Ophiura acervata and the crab Portunus spinicarpus. This study is one of the starting points for predictive models of species distribution in conservation planning selection site exercises.
Macrofaunal; benthos; assemblages; depth; Western Caribbean
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