Composition, trophic structure, and species-substrate relationships of molluscan assemblages inhabiting different hard bottom habitats (Sabellaria alveolata
reef, photophilic bottoms, Phyllophora crispa
sciaphilic assemblage, and coralligenous bioconstruction) were studied in two different sites of the Tyrrhenian Sea. In particular, molluscs from the Sabellaria alvevolata
(Linnaeus, 1767) reef and coralligenous concretion were investigated, testing the hypothesis that bioconstructions increase the diversity and abundance of associated biota compared to the surrounding habitats. A total of 3134 individuals belonging to the classes of Polyplacophora (5 species, 24 individuals), Bivalvia (39 sp., 2734 ind.), and Gastropoda (53 sp., 376 ind.) were identified. These three taxonomic groups showed different distribution patterns in the studied habitats. Multivariate analyses revealed significant inter-habitat differences in the composition of mollusc assemblages, especially between bioconstructions and the other habitats. S. alveolata
and coralligenous host the highest rich molluscan fauna when compared to the neighboring hard bottom habitats characterized by photophilic and sciaphilic assemblages. The first ones were dominated by bivalve suspension feeders, mainly represented by sessile and sedentary organisms, which act as bio-constructors, bio-eroders, or simply inhabit the several microhabitats provided by the bioconstructions, while the second ones host a rich molluscan fauna dominated by gastropod grazers and predators. The present study increases the comparative knowledge of molluscan assemblages inhabiting habitats of littoral plans of the Mediterranean Sea, providing pivotal information regarding biodiversity of coastal zones.
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