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Article

Habitat-Diversity Relations between Sessile Macrobenthos and Benthic Copepods in the Rocky Shores of a Marine Protected Area

1
Department of Biomolecular Sciences (DiSB), University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, 61029 Crocicchia, Italy
2
Biology Department, Ghent University, Marine Biology, Campus Sterre, Krijgslaan 281-S8, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
3
Department of Earth, University of Genoa, Environment and Life Sciences (DISTAV), 16132 Genoa, Italy
4
Fano Marine Center, The Inter-Institute Center for Research on Marine Biodiversity, Resources and Biotechnologies, 61032 Fano, Italy
5
Conisma, Consorzio di Scienze Interuniversitario sul Mare, Piazzale Flaminio 6, 00136 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kay Van Damme
Water 2021, 13(8), 1020; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081020
Received: 25 February 2021 / Revised: 15 March 2021 / Accepted: 5 April 2021 / Published: 8 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Species Richness and Diversity of Aquatic Ecosystems)
In rocky shore systems, sessile macrobenthic assemblages may act as “ecosystem engineers” for many smaller benthic organisms. Thus, the influence of macrobenthic coverage on the diversity and assemblage structure of the harpacticoid copepod fauna was investigated in the rocky shores of a Marine Protect Area (MPA) in the Ligurian Sea (NW, Mediterranean Sea). Two sampling sites were investigated in two seasons at three different depths on both sub-vertical and inclined reefs. A total of 61 species of copepods mainly represented by Miraciidae, Laophontidae, Longipediidae and Thalestridae were found. The complex micro-topography of these substrata provided a wide variety of niches for many species with different lifestyles that suggests the important role of rocky shores to ensure the functioning of coastal ecosystems. The harpacticoid assemblage structure seemed mainly influenced by season and depth. The temporal spread observed is likely one of the underlying mechanisms of niche segregation that allows many species to co-occur in this specific environment along with a subordinate spatial segregation corresponding to the depth gradient. The results seem to support the hypothesis that the different species composition of the “ecosystem engineer” (and consequently its structure changes) are relevant in structuring the copepod assemblages. The comparison with previous data on general meiofauna underlines that higher surrogacy of the taxonomic identification could be used to study rocky shore communities, but the rich diversity that these systems host can only be understood at the lower taxonomic levels. The same holds for future evaluations of impact of environmental changes (including MPA regulations) on meiofaunal assemblages. View Full-Text
Keywords: copepoda; macrobenthos; ecosystem engineers; Ligurian Sea; NW Mediterranean copepoda; macrobenthos; ecosystem engineers; Ligurian Sea; NW Mediterranean
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sbrocca, C.; De Troch, M.; Losi, V.; Grassi, E.; Balsamo, M.; Semprucci, F. Habitat-Diversity Relations between Sessile Macrobenthos and Benthic Copepods in the Rocky Shores of a Marine Protected Area. Water 2021, 13, 1020. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081020

AMA Style

Sbrocca C, De Troch M, Losi V, Grassi E, Balsamo M, Semprucci F. Habitat-Diversity Relations between Sessile Macrobenthos and Benthic Copepods in the Rocky Shores of a Marine Protected Area. Water. 2021; 13(8):1020. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081020

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sbrocca, Claudia; De Troch, Marleen; Losi, Valentina; Grassi, Eleonora; Balsamo, Maria; Semprucci, Federica. 2021. "Habitat-Diversity Relations between Sessile Macrobenthos and Benthic Copepods in the Rocky Shores of a Marine Protected Area" Water 13, no. 8: 1020. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081020

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