The effectiveness of monitoring programs in the marine environment is often limited by the scarcity of information concerning medium/long-term time series observations. Marine submerged caves have received relatively low research effort, as they are confined and difficult to access ecosystems.
This study describes the spatio-temporal variations of sessile benthic assemblages along the exterior-interior axis of the Cerro-Gordo submarine cave (Granada, Spain), from 2007 to 2016 using taxonomic and morphological descriptors.
The study provides evidence of the suitability of morphological descriptors for detecting changes on a short time-scale, at least in the outer cave sector. On the other hand, the use of taxonomic descriptors (event at high taxonomic levels) could also be recommended, especially in the inner confined zones dominated by few morphological categories.
The results revealed variation in the taxonomic composition and morphology of sessile benthic communities in both external and internal cave sectors of the Cerro-Gordo Cave within the last decade. The authors state that the results provide valuable information for future monitoring programs in these vulnerable and protected marine habitats.
Sempere-Valverde et al. (2019) Taxonomic and morphological descriptors reveal high benthic temporal variability in a Mediterranean marine submerged cave over a decade. Hydrobiologia 839:177-194