PhD thesis abstract:
The purpose of my PhD research was to expand knowledge on benthic and fish of the rocky bottom of some submerged cavities that open along the coast of Salento (South Apulia).
I described the spatial distribution of benthic hard bottom environment of marine caves to investigate if they, as traditionally believed, could be interpreted solely based on the gradient that occured along the outside-in, or rather other sources of variability were involved in structuring these populations.
As for the fish fauna the investigation of this component was done to have more information on the structure of fish populations of sea caves. This study has allowed us to understand, among other things whether the caves could provide refuge for small and adults of many species of fish, which, however, could contribute to '"input" of organic matter through their movements outside-inside for the benefit of sessile organisms filter feeders that live there.
Beyond purely scientific interest the knowledge of these environments was also important for a proper management of the institution of future Marine Protected Areas.