MEPS - Vol. 375 - Feature article

The sparid Sarpa salpa is a key primary consumer in the NW Mediterranean. Photo: Adriana Vergés

Vergés A, Alcoverro T, Ballesteros E


Role of fish herbivory in structuring the vertical distribution of canopy algae Cystoseira spp. in the Mediterranean Sea


Biological interactions can strongly influence the distribution of organisms in both tropical and temperate marine ecosystems. However, different taxa are considered to be key players in different latitudes: while herbivorous fish are recognised as the main consumers in tropical waters, urchins are considered the dominant herbivores in temperate shores. Vergés, Alcoverro and Ballesteros challenge this widely accepted view and show that fish herbivory can have a profound influence on benthic community structure in the NW Mediterranean by contributing to the generation and maintenance of the vertical limits of distribution of fucoid forests.


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