Cold-Water Corals and Ecosystems

Part of the series Erlangen Earth Conference Series pp 715-729

Lipids and nitrogen isotopes of two deep-water corals from the North-East Atlantic: initial results and implications for their nutrition

  • Kostas KiriakoulakisAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool
  • , Elizabeth FisherAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool
  • , George A. WolffAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool
  • , André FreiwaldAffiliated withInstitute of Paleontology, Erlangen University
  • , Anthony GrehanAffiliated withMartin Ryan Marine Science Institute, National University of Ireland
  • , J. Murray RobertsAffiliated withDunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Scottish Association for Marine Science

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The lipid and organic nitrogen isotopic (δ15N) compositions of two common deep-water corals (Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata) collected from selected locations of the NE Atlantic are compared to the composition of suspended particulate organic matter, in order to determine their principle food source. Initial results suggest that they may feed primarily on zooplankton. This is based on the increased abundances of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and alcohols and the different ratios of the polyunsaturated fatty acids, 22:6/20:5 of the corals when compared to those of the suspended particulate organic matter. There is enrichment in L. pertusa of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and of δ15N relative to M. oculata. It is unclear whether this reflects different feeding strategies or assimilation/storage efficiencies of zooplankton tissue or different metabolism in the two coral species.


Deep-water corals suspended particulate organic matter nitrogen isotopes lipids fatty acids PUFA MUFA