Report | May 23, 2021
Invertebrates: The Realm of Diversity
The Alboran Sea displays the highest values of animal species richness in the European seas, and invertebrates comprise the bulk of this diversity. In this chapter, the importance of invertebrates as the main components of biodiversity (sometimes neglected) is highlighted through numerous examples of representative species in this Mediterranean basin. Almost all large invertebrate groups (Phyla) are present in the Alboran Sea, and they play vital roles as basic links in the trophic web and participate one way or another in all oceanic ecological processes. We attempt to offer an overview of these animal groups and of their peculiar adaptations or life styles, focused on species that have their most important populations in this area. Despite focusing on the most emblematic, conspicuous, abundant or threatened species (very few of them really protected), we also stress the importance of small, rare, inconspicuous and little-known species and provide some striking examples. A list of the species originally described in the Strait of Gibraltar and Alboran Sea in the last decades is provided. Finally, it is advised that this natural richness is in danger since the conservation status of many species is very worrying, due to the regression of many populations and to some mass mortality events.