Ecosystem effects of dense water formation on deep Mediterranean Sea ecosystems: an overview

  • Antonio Pusceddu | a.pusceddu@univpm.it Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
  • Marianna Mea Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
  • Cristina Gambi Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
  • Silvia Bianchelli Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
  • Miquel Canals GRC Geociències Marines, Departament d'Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències Marines, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Anna Sanchez-Vidal GRC Geociències Marines, Departament d'Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències Marines, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Antoni Calafat GRC Geociències Marines, Departament d'Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències Marines, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Serge Heussner CEFREM, UMR 5110 CNRS-University of Perpignan, Perpignan Cedex, France.
  • Xavier Durrieu De Madron CEFREM, UMR 5110 CNRS-University of Perpignan, Perpignan Cedex, France.
  • Jérome Avril CEFREM, UMR 5110 CNRS-University of Perpignan, Perpignan Cedex, France.
  • Laurenz Thomsen Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
  • Rosa Garcìa Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen; Department of Global Change Research, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB) Instituto Mediterra´neo de Estudios Avanzados, Esporles, Spain.
  • Roberto Danovaro Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.

Abstract

Natural episodic events, such as gravity flows, submarine landslides, and benthic storms can determine severe modifications in the structure and functioning of deep-sea ecosystems. Here, we report and compare the ecosystem effects produced by dense water formation events that occurred in the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean) and the Aegean Sea (NE Mediterranean). In both regions, the rapid sinking of cold dense waters, driven by regional meteorological forcings, results in important immediate modifications that can be summarised in: (i) increased organic matter content in the deep basin; (ii) diminished benthic abundance; and (iii) changes of benthic biodiversity. At longer time scale the analysis reveals, however, different resilience times in the two regions. The Gulf of Lions is characterized by a very fast (months) recovery whereas the Aegean Sea shows much longer (45 years) resilience time. New long-term studies are further needed to identify the potential effects that changes in the duration, intensity and frequency of episodic events could have on the structure, biodiversity and functioning of the deep Mediterranean Sea under environmental and climate change scenarios.

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Published
2010-06-01
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Keywords:
dense shelf water cascading, ecosystem functions, deep sea, Mediterranean Sea, climate change
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How to Cite
Pusceddu, A., Mea, M., Gambi, C., Bianchelli, S., Canals, M., Sanchez-Vidal, A., Calafat, A., Heussner, S., De Madron, X. D., Avril, J., Thomsen, L., Garcìa, R., & Danovaro, R. (2010). Ecosystem effects of dense water formation on deep Mediterranean Sea ecosystems: an overview. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology, 1(1), 67-83. https://doi.org/10.4081/aiol.2010.5295