227 120 120 2 2 J. E. Cartes J. B. Company F. Maynou Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) Plaça del Mar s/n E-08039 Barcelona Centre des Pêches du Golfe MPO C.P. 5030 E1C 9B6 Moncton New Brunswick Canada Abstract The specific composition and abundance of bathyal decapods in the Catalan Sea were investigated. A total of 109 bottom trawls were effected at depths ranging from 141 to 730 m on the continental slope in the Catalan Sea (northwestern Mediterranean) during two sampling cruises in spring and autumn 1991. Multivariate analysis of the samples revealed four groups of the decapod crustacean communities: (1) A shelf-slope transition-zone group at depths between 146 and 296 m, primarily characterized by the presence of Plesionika heterocarpus ; (2) an upper-slope community between 245 and 485 m, characterized by the presence of the mesopelagic species Pasiphaea sivado and Sergestes arcticus , with Processa nouveli, Solenocera membranacea and Nephrops norvegicus as secondary species; (3) a middle-slope community below 514 m, with Aristeus antennatus and Calocaris macandreae as the most abundant species; (4) a group at 430 to 515 m, comprising all samples collected exclusively within or in the vicinity of submarine canyons. Mesopelagic decapods were predominant on the slope, while benthopelagic fishes ( Merluccius merluccius, Micromesistius poutassou, Gadiculus argenteus ) replaced mesopelagic decapods on the shelf. There were seasonal variations, with higher densities of mesopelagic species in spring, which were probably related, among other factors, to variations in the photoperiod. Our surveys also revealed higher species richness in the canyons together with seasonal changes in the megafaunal biomass. Generally, the upper and middle-slope communities both displayed seasonal changes in the composition and abundance of megabenthos.
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