scientific chapter |
Gori A, Bavestrello G, Grinyó J, Dominguez-Carrió C, Ambroso S, Bo M
Several studies using Remotely Operated Vehicles and manned submersibles have recently provided quantitative information on animal forests dominated by gorgonians, black corals, and sponges dwelling at 40–200 m depth in the Mediterranean Sea. These assemblages have received relatively little attention during the last decades due to the fact that they are found below scuba diving depths, and most submersible-based research has been traditionally conducted below 200 m depth. However, these communities are among the most threatened by the impact of fishing pressure, since the larger proportion of fishing activities, especially bottom trawling on soft bottoms and passive gears on hard grounds, concentrate between 50 and 200 m depth. This chapter reviews the recent advances in the study of the spatial and bathymetric distribution patterns of these animal forests, their species composition, ecology, and conservation status.