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Litter as a source of habitat islands on deep water muddy bottoms.

Certain types of marine litter, usually considered as pollutants, may also be a resource, serving as artificial reefs on sedimentary bottoms. In order to study this aspect, marine debris was collected by bottom trawl from muddy bottoms (depths of 45-700m) in the waters around the Maltese islands, during July 2005. The associated fauna was identified and quantified. Litter was found to support a higher abundance of organisms than the surrounding sediment, but a lower species richness. However, the suite of epifaunal species on the debris was different from the infauna of the surrounding substratum. Thus litter was found to increase the overall biodiversity of particular areas.

Pace R., Dimech M., Camilleri M., Mosteiro Cabanelas A. & Schembri P.J. (2007). Litter as a source of habitat islands on deep water muddy bottoms. Rapport du Congrès de la Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée 38: 567.

The full paper may be downloaded from here. 



An anthozoan using a beer can as a substratum (photo © Roberta Mifsud) 

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