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Shallow Cystoseira (Fucales: Ochro­phyta) assemblages thriving in sheltered areas from Menorca (NW Mediterranean): relationships with environmental fac­tors and anthropogenic pressures

Author(s): Sales M, Ballesteros E


The distribution of Cystoseira species was studied at 103 coves in the island of Menorca (Balearic Islands, NW Mediterranean). Both geomorphological parameters and anthropogenic pressures were considered in order to investigate which were the main environmental factors explaining their distribution. Several factors contributed to explain the composition of Cystoseira assemblages in the sampled coves being coastal morphology, bottom nature, nutrient concentration in seawater and urbanization level of the coast the most important. The relatively high number of Cystoseira species found in Menorca suggested a general high quality of the environment. However, in southern coves the number and abundance of Cystoseira spp. was reduced compared to the northern ones. This pattern seems to be related both to a higher anthropogenic pressure and to a less favourable geomorphology at southern coves. When strong anthropogenic disturbances were present (proximity to harbour areas), coves were completely devoid of Cystoseira specimens. As historical data is available for some of these sites, we can document the disappearance of some Cystoseira species at these coves, which seems to be related to increased pollution levels. However, as the absence of Cystoseira assemblages can also respond to a lack of a suitable geomorphology, their use as bioindicators of water quality needs of a definition of proper reference sites.

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