The zonation of polychaetes down a vertical cliff (0-5 m in depth) at Cape Romito, Leghorn, Italy, was investigated. The structural organization of the community changed with depth. A community typical of photophilic environments was found in the superficial zone (0-2 m), while in the deeper zone (3-5 m), a more diversified community characterized by species typical of sciaphilic environments was present. At the surface (0 m) the community was very poor in species and individuals and thus probably corresponds to the midlittoral fringe. In fact, some species typical of the midlittoral zone were found. This distribution pattern was constant for samples taken in February and August 1985. The distribution of polychaetes was closely related to that found for macroalgae. It is hypothesized that algae condition the substratum and that this is the main factor responsible for the zonation of polychaetes. © 1988.
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